The Importance of Education
Even though primary schools and some
secondary schools are supported by the Ugandan government, the
needs continue to be great. Households with limited resources
and many to care for have a hard time affording the $10 needed
for school uniforms, the $0.50 needed for a pencil and a
notebook, and the expected contribution of food for school
lunches or money for building funds. In order to send a child to
primary school, families need to contribute an average of $45 a
year to support government-run primary schools.
Schools operate hand-to-mouth, just like the families they serve. Because of Universal Primary Education (UPE)85% of children over the age of 6 are enrolled in primary school. The impact of this success means that classrooms are overcrowded, there are fewer trained teachers per pupil, and there is a lack of learning materials. The student to teacher ratio is 84:1. In rural schools, children do not have access to textbooks. Teaching is by lecture, and learning is by rote to prepare for national exams. Fewer than half of primary leavers advance to secondary school.
Private secondary schools, such as St. Denis SS, are not government funded and are built by the community on a “self-help” basis. Children who have the potential to continue their education might scrape enough to pay tuition for one term, but then drop out because the family can’t afford the next term’s tuition making consistent and continued education difficult. Most secondary schools lack basic facilities and equipment such as textbooks and computers. School administrators and parents struggle to find the funds the school needs to build libraries, laboratories, classroom blocks, and latrines, or purchase textbooks and other materials necessary for a quality education. St. Denis, the only secondary school in the Makondo area, as well as the publicly funded St. Agatha Primary School, was initiated by the community and is supervised by the local Catholic parish. Supervised by the Father- in-Charge of Schools of Makondo Parish, the school benefits students from a variety of religious backgrounds.