THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN UGANDA
In Uganda, there are some public primary schools, but they are few and far between and not equipped to deal with the special needs of orphans and impoverished children who do better in a boarding school environment. In most cases, without a sponsor, an orphaned or poor child does not go to school. At this time, there is no public secondary school.
It is important to remember that many of our students do not begin school at Watoto at the “normal” age because the parent or caregiver has no money. Many children must wait for a sponsor, and it is not unusual for a P.1 student to be two to four years older than the norm.
If money is available, children begin nursery school as soon as possible in order to give them the best chance at education. In some cases in Uganda, nursery school costs more that Primary. At the Watoto School in Bwindi, the cost for nursery and for primary is the same.
Levels 1 – 7 corresponds roughly to both our primary and middle school. Students start, if able, at six or seven years old.
This system follows the British/European method. All students in Uganda take annual, national exams. Entrance into secondary school depends on these exams. Secondary schools vary in quality, as they do in the US. The better the school, the higher the exam scores must be.
Secondary School is divided into two parts:
• Secondary 1 – 4, roughly equivalent to our High School
• Secondary 5 + 6 or "A" Levels/Advanced Secondary, which corresponds more or less to the first two years of a US B.A.
• Only those students who perform very well on national exams are able to move from S.4 into S.5. Students who either do not qualify, or are financially unable to move on to S.5, may go to vocational school if finances permit.
If finances are available, students who complete A Levels continue on to University.
University programs range from 2-4 years. Unlike university in the US, university focuses exclusively on the student's major.
Annual costs including room and board range from $1500 to $2500 per year plus a one time cost of about $500. Most programs are three or four years, though Uganda's current economic issues often make a one year Master's program necessary to find a job.