Article- Invest More in Education

The World Bank’s analysis of cross-country data on human capital indicates that Uganda is underinvesting in the future productivity of its citizens. Uganda is ranked among the countries in the lowest quartile of the Human Capital Index (HCI) distribution, with an index slightly lower than the average for the Sub-Saharan Africa  region, and below what would be predicted by its income level. Uganda’s low ranking in the HCI is mainly due to the country’s low education outcomes. This is according to a report: Economic development and human capital in Uganda: A case for investing more in education, released in June 2019. This report urges Uganda to increase the education budget to 16% from the current 10%.  

Though Uganda’s population is growing everyday, the investment in education remains low. At 2.6 percent of GDP, Uganda’s current budget expenditure on education is the lowest in the region compared to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi which spend between 3.2% and 5.2%. This is placing Uganda’s future in Jeopardy. 

 “If Uganda’s population continues to grow at the current rate, the percentage of children going to school will equally go down regardless of investment from the World Bank and other development partners. Turning around this situation requires additional resources and implementing key reforms that would put at least a million children in school and improve the quality of learning which would generate significant both savings and human capital gains for Uganda,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda. 

Uganda is one of the pioneers in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of setting the goal to achieve universal access to basic education. After Universal Primary Education (UPE) was introduced in 1997, primary school enrolment increased at a rapid pace, growing from 2.5 million learners in 1996 to 8.3 million in 2015. The UPE system effectively improved access to undeserved families following the abolition of primary school tuition. While the UPE policy resulted in considerable gains in terms of access to primary education, this was not accompanied by adequate progress in learning outcomes. Uganda is faced by an ever growing pupil population, of whom a significant number do not make it to the final grade of primary school. The primary completion rates are very low and have not shown much improvement for nearly a decade. Low quality of education service delivery resulting in high repetition rates, coupled with very high student population are key contributors to the high drop out rates.Low primary Leaving pass rates have seen the enrolment rate into lower secondary schools stagnate. 

Uganda’s Literacy and Numeracy skills are lagging behind other countries in the region.  Currently only 2% of children in year 4 can calculate a simple fraction and only 6% can read and comprehend a sentence. The report goes on to show that at 18 years, the average Ugandan will have attained only 6 years of education of which only 4.5 years are of ‘value’ due to the poor quality of education.  

It is evident that a lot still remains to be done to solve the education crisis that is facing Uganda. The report identifes gaps, in pedagogy, teacher effectiveness, among other challenges facing the children as well as systemic gaps. This calls for multi-dimensional approaches in addressing these gaps if the global goals on quality education are to be achieved.  

An educated population can help reduce income inequality, promote social mobility and foster social cohesion,” said Richard Walker, World Bank Senior Economist and author of the report. 

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