Early learning and development is compromised by the lack of pre-schools and other early childhood development (ECD) programmes and qualified teachers, as well as limited awareness and appreciation of the importance of ECD. One out of every 10 children between 3 and 5 years of age is enrolled in pre-primary education.
Attendance at primary level has grown due to a universal primary education policy launched in 1997 but the quality of teaching and learning needs significant improvement. Teacher absenteeism is high in Uganda, with more than 60 per cent of teachers not in the classroom teaching in over half of all Ugandan public schools.
Many children do not complete their schooling nor have the competencies needed to do well in life. Only 1 in 4 children who starts primary school makes it to secondary school. Less than half (40 per cent) of students are literate at the end of primary school. Children with disabilities are largely excluded from formal schooling because of shortages of special needs teachers and facilities.
Secondary education is still inaccessible to most adolescents. Less than quarters (24 per cent) of adolescents are enrolled at this level. Early marriage, teenage pregnancy, abuse at schools and school fees keep many teens, especially girls, out of secondary schools. The school environment also plays a role in keeping children out of education. Schools lack adequate toilets and washing areas, and sexual abuse and canning at schools is rife despite an official ban on corporeal punishment. Close to a quarter (24 per cent) of Ugandan children have experienced sexual abuse in schools
Educational outcomes are one of the key areas influenced by family incomes. Children from low-income families often start school already behind their peers who come from more affluent families. The incidence, depth, duration, and timing of poverty together influence a child’s educational attainment. In the recent poverty statistics by the Ministry of Finance, it indicted that poverty increased to 28 percent due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Many children are being robbed of an education simply because of extreme poverty, or are discriminated against because of their gender, disability or ethnicity. The world's most vulnerable and excluded children are missing out on education.
The incidence of poverty, the depth of poverty, the duration of poverty, the timing of poverty, community characteristics (e.g. concentration of poverty and school characteristics) and the impact poverty has on the child’s social network (parents, relatives and neighbors) all have a negative influence on learners and their performance. Children from poor and orphan headed families often do not learn the social skills required to prepare them for school. Without a quality basic education, children are less likely to escape the cycle of poverty and may never have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.