Exploring Universal Primary Education (UPE) Policy: the road-map towards inclusive and equitable quality education in Uganda

26 Jun 2017

Education for all is universally recognised as a contributor to socio-economic development; hence, schooling systems are part of the interventions to ensure that participation in societal development processes is made possible. Since 1997 when Universal Primary Education (UPE) was introduced in Uganda, like in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, substantial gains have been made towards increasing total enrolment and reaching gender parity. From a net Enrolment of 3.1 million pupils in 1996 to 8.5 % in 2014 with a declining boy-girl gap in enrolment, Uganda would be considered as performing well by close of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. These gains, well registered and acknowledged, the staggering completion rates and quality of education under UPE consistently remain high. However, evident tendencies to downplay the relevance of UPE quality kept dominating the public policy evaluations. Post-2015, Sustainable Development Goal 4 re-emphasize inclusive and quality education by re-directing the focus from equitable enrolment, that is almost attained in a gender perspective to completion of free primary education for both girls and boys and secondary schooling by 2030. This article, through a cross-sectional descriptive qualitative approach, appreciates noticeable UPE achievements, but concludes that special needs children are still marginalized, that retention and completion levels remain slightly lower and that quality of education remains problematic. It is suggested that teacher recruitment and capacity building be stepped up, UPE capitation grant be increased that policy on parents’ contribution be revised as strategies for minimising UPE politicisation devised.