The World Bank has approved a $150 million (Shs 554 billion) loan to enable greater access to higher quality secondary education among Ugandan children in safer and better equipped learning environments that are also supportive of girls’ education.
The project; Uganda Secondary Education Expansion Project (USEEP) is financed by an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $90 million (Shs 332.5 billion ) and a grant of $60 million (Shs 221.6 billion) from the window on host communities and refugees.
It will directly benefit about 2.5 million learners. A total of 116 new lower secondary day-schools will be constructed, and 61 schools will benefit from additional classrooms in underserved districts, creating 70,300 new spaces for learners, including 30,000 in areas hosting refugees. Schools will be fully furnished and equipped to accommodate two streams of students.
The project will provide student textbooks and teacher guides, support continuous teacher professional development, and implement an accelerated education program for children who are not currently attending school.
Uganda needs to expand access to secondary education to enhance its human capital. This is essential if Uganda is to improve the future wellbeing of its citizens while also enabling the economy to grow through their increased productivity,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank country director for Uganda.
“This project aims to provide new school spaces while at the same time creating a conducive learning environment which is safe, promotes students’ personal growth and self-esteem, and increases retention for both boys and girls. It includes special measures to reduce the prevalence of early pregnancies and to assist young mothers to re-enter lower secondary education when they drop out,” he added.
Uganda is a pioneer in Sub-Saharan Africa in implementing policies to achieve universal access to primary and secondary education.
Since the introduction of Universal Secondary Education, enrollment has increased at an average of six percent annually – growing from a total of 954,000 students enrolled in 2007 to around 1.5 million in 2017.
The rate of growth, however, remains low compared to 25 percent in Kenya and 16 percent in Rwanda.Further, the enrollment rate at the secondary level in Uganda has stagnated since 2007 measuring only 28 percent in 2017, much below the rates in neighboring countries. Fifty-nine percent of secondary schools in Uganda are non-government.
A big percentage of learners drop out or fail to meet the minimum proficiency in reading and mathematics by the time they are completing basic education due to insufficient spaces in public schools and learning aids and low levels of skilled and motivated teachers.
Children from poor families and those in underserved areas are less likely to learn, while early pregnancy, child marriage and the high cost of schooling are the main reasons why few girls complete secondary education. In refugee hosting districts, about 11 percent of refugee children are enrolled in secondary education, of which 33 percent are girls; compared to 18 percent for the host communities – far below the national average of 28 percent. Uganda is the largest refugee hosting country in Africa and third largest in the world with nearly 1.4 million refugees.
Uganda’s current budget expenditure on education is among the lowest in the region. During the last five years, education expenditure as a share of the national budget was declining in Uganda, reaching 10 percent in 2019/20 while the average for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is 16% and has been steadily increasing over the same period.