One thing that is hard to believe in our world today is that all children don't have the opportunity to receive an education. This is why, among other goals such as eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and improving maternal health, one of the areas of focus for the Millennium Goals appointed by the United Nations is to acheive universal primary education for all children by 2015.
We all must play a part in learning more about how we can help these goals be achieved. Uganda, a country where Kikulu focuses its efforts is a country where most children are not in school. We are working to help change that with our partner NGO on the ground, HOPE Ministries.
There are often many questions about Uganda's Education System, and what our overall education dreams and goals are for the area of Uganda we are working in. Therefore, we would like to share with our supporters the make-up of the education system in Uganda, and our dreams for the future.
The Ugandan Education System:
The Ugandan school year starts in February and finishes in December. The first term runs from February to April, the second term from May until early August, and the third term from September to December. Children are in primary school for seven years (Primary 1- Primary 7), and then continue through secondary school for the next six years (Senior 1- Senior 6).
The three most important school years for a child in Uganda are:
Primary 7: All students must take leaving exams which will determine which secondary school they go to.
Senior 4: O-Level year.
Senior 6: A-Level year.
We want to see all of the children that we support go to school up until the end of Senior 4. After Senior 4, most children make the decision on what their next steps should be. They have the opportunity to graduate from Senior 4 and then explore the options of Vocational Training or they must pass an exam to allow them to continue onto Senior 5 and 6. If you are in Senior 5 and 6 then you are in preperation for University. This is much like what we would consider Junior College Prep. If you do not attend Senior 5 and 6 then you cannot attend University.
The Ugandan school system is very competitive. There are so many children who want an education, that schools all over the country are able to pick and choose the best students in order to improve their grade average and national standing. Testing is relentless for students, as every term they have to take exams as well as having ongoing assessments of their performance; based on their results they are given a grade and a position in their class. If the child is successful, they can move in to the next class in the New Year. However, if their performance is poor they may have to attend the grade again. If you were to ask any child in Uganda if they would prefer to go to boarding school or day school, the answer would almost always come back as boarding school. In Ugandan boarding schools, children are provided with a much better education, as students get to fully concentrate on their studies and receive extra classes in the evenings. It is hard to be a teacher in Uganda, as you are faced with such large class sizes and poor resources that it is incredibly difficult for you to give one-to-one attention to those students who need it most. When the day-school pupils go home after classes, the teachers are at last able to work on a more individual basis with the boarders.
Children in Primary school take four main subjects, English, Maths, Science and SST. SST stands for Social Studies, a subject that includes Geography, History and Religious Studies. There is also the option of taking Agriculture as a fifth subject, depending on whether the school provides this option or not. They are examined at the end of every term in each of these subjects.
Grade boundaries for primary school:
Distinction = 100 – 80 %
Credit = 79 – 50%
Pass = 49 – 30%
Fail = 29 – 0%
Children in secondary school take a wide variety of subjects with English, Maths and Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) as the key subjects.
For each subject, a child is given grades based on their exam performance:
Division 1 = 100-81 %
Division 2 = 81-72 %
Class 3 = 72-68 %
Class 4 = 68-61 %
Class 5 = 61-53 %
Class 6 (Fail) = 53-0 %
EDUCATION & OUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE
Build A School For The Children of HOPE Ministries
Building a school in Uganda: Most schools in Uganda are privately owned. At this time, we do not own and run the school our children attend. Currently, our children attend various schools depending on their grade. The goal of The Kikulu Foundation and HOPE Ministries is to eventually build our own school for the children. Therefore, there would have direct oversight on how the teachers are treated, paid, and curriculum. It would also allow for additional classroom learning resources. Our children would have consistency in schools as opposed to having to switch schools when an issue arises or perhaps a school is no longer functioning. Having our own school grounds would also allow for vocational training program divisions and well as transition education all in one location.
What does it take to make this happen? Land, School Buildings, School Administrator, and Teachers. We could buy the land, contruct the school buildings, and have finances to effectively run the school that would educate hundreds of children for an estimated amount of $100,000 US Dollars.
University Scholarships: We are very joiyful that we have many teenagers and young adults in our orphanage that have an incredible depth of intelligence and perserverence despite the struggles they have encountered. In the next 2-3 years, we have several students that will have the potential to attend University in Uganda. Therefore, we are preparing for this now. When our first students are able to begin University, The Kikulu Foundation will be offering University scholarships for their education.
What does it take to make this happen? Individuals like you and me who are dedicated to helping kids achieve higher education. We must start designating funds now for this scholarship program. Each University term per child should have a minimum designated fund of $500 based on costs in 2013. We anticipate Evelyn, our first University student, to attend her first term of University in 2015.