According to the findings that were released last week, it is estimated that 8 percent-representing 80,000 learners studying in Universal Primary Education schools across the country drop out of school every year. As such many of them do not make it to upper primary.
An estimated 240,000 pupils who are
enrolled in primary one under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) drop out before reaching Primary four, according to a
study carried out by the Ministry of Education and Sports and Elevate- an education
The study was carried out in 150 government funded
primary schools across the country.
According to the findings, it is estimated that 8 percent-representing 80,000 learners
studying in UPE schools across the country drop out of
school every year. As such many of them do not make it to upper primary. The
study was carried out over a two year period from 2017 to 2018.
The study comes at a time when the education
ministry is grappling with large drop out numbers across the education cycle
starting from primary and stretching to secondary school.
Data from the ministry of education shows that on average
one million learners every year enroll in primary education. However at the end
of the seven year cycle, only 600,000 pupils sit for Primary Leaving
Examinations. This number reduces to 300,000 at Uganda Certificate of Education
and later to 100,000 students at Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education.
Sarah Kabay, the leader researcher on the study says
that the level of learners dropping out of government funded schools is
alarming. She says that if nothing is done to remedy the numbers, the number
of pupils who leave primary is likely to reduce further.
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Kabay attributes the high numbers of school dropouts
to late enrollment in schools. She says that due to late enrollment mainly in the
Eastern and North Eastern parts of the country, many children lose interest.
She also adds that poor transition methods within the thematic curriculum leave
many learners at a disadvantage.
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Findings from the report estimate that 18 percent of
the learners who drop out of UPE schools join private schools. However, due to
a lack of data, it is unknown what happens to the rest of the pupils.
Officials from the education ministry that URN spoke
to all intimated that the lack of an Early Childhood Development policy that
would make it mandatory for all learners to attend primary school leaves many
underage learners in classrooms.
Dr. Tony Mukasa Lusambu, the assistant commissioner of
basic education says that the findings are proof the Uganda’s quality of
education is poor. He says the findings show that something needs to be done to
address the high numbers of school dropouts in lower primary school.
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Dr. Kedrace Turyagenda, the director of education
standards at the ministry of education says that such high numbers of pupils dropping out means that the sector has failed to provide education for all learners.
“Under UPE, all learners are supposed to go to
school and get an education at no cost. However of we have learners dropping out
before they even reach primary four. That means we still have illiterate people in the
country. This means we have to go back and see what is causing this and address it," said Dr. Turyagenda.
Dr. Turyagenda says that some drastic measures need to
be taken by all education stake holders to ensure that the numbers who enroll
for primary education are reflected in the number that sits for national
examinations at the end of the six year secondary cycle.
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Dr. Lusambu on the other hand believes that the
solution to reducing primary school dropout rates is to include pre-primary
education into government’s education structure. He says that if
parents do not have to pay for nursery education for their children, more
children would be joining primary school at the right ages compared to today where
some enroll in primary one when they are four years old compared to the recommended