Heart for Uganda

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Posted on July 24, 2010 at 9:43 PM

In Uganda, education is a valued, coveted privilege (not a right like for American students). The Ugandan Education System can be compared to a pyramid, where a broad base of students begin Primary school, but through a series of three National Exams and the financial costs of education fees, only the most superior students will make it to the top tier of University studies. In Uganda, there are a total of 7 Primary and 6 Secondary grade levels. Parents in Uganda are encouraged to send their children to Primary school starting at the age of 6 years. However, only 80% of primary aged children  ever enroll in school.


At the end of Primary 7 (equivalent to 7th grade in America), graduating Primary students complete their first National Examination. This Exam tests students’ comprehension of Mathematics, Language Arts, History, and Social Studies. Overall scores of this National Exam will determine the eligibility and caliber of Secondary school a student can enroll. Only about 25% of all Primary Students enroll in Secondary school due to either poor test scores or lack of finances for school fees.


The first 4 years of Secondary School are called the “O” (Ordinary) Levels. Students take a broad range of classes during these years in subjects like Mathematics, Language Arts, History, Commerce, Agriculture, and Sciences (like Biology, Chemistry). Towards the end of the Senior 4 year (equivalent to 11th grade in America), students sit for their second National Examination. The test scores from this Exam will determine a student’s future course of study. Only about 20% of students have test scores that advance them to their final 2 years of Secondary school, known at “A” (Advanced) Levels.


The "A" Level years of study are comparable to a junior college in America where students begin to study a specific combination of courses for a predetermined classification of occupations. Despite the aspirations of Ugandan students, only the students with the most superior examination scores have the option to study for the higher paying, more prestigious occupations (like doctor or lawyer). Students with lesser test scores must be satisfied with an alternative occupation.  There is realitively no free choice about occupation tracks for Ugandan students. 


The final National Examination is taken during the very last year of Secondary, Senior 6 (which is actually 1 year beyond American High School). Only students with the most superior examination scores are eligible to attend a Ugandan university. Typically the Ugandan government will financially sponsor only a few thousand stellar students with full scholarships to public universities. The remainder of students must finance their own university fees.


Muwanguzi Habib is currently in Senior 5. He performed very well on his Senior 4 National Examination. Like all other CTT students, his school tuition, uniforms, textbooks, and other class materials are paid by generous Change The Truth sponsors. Habib studies day and night to excel within his courses. There is very little time for extracurricular activities outside of school. Habib has high ambitions for himself as he aspires to become the future President of Uganda, and who knows, he just may accomplish that lofty goal!

Categories: CTT Students