Education in Uganda requires more investment

The principle of investing in the development of human capital is one that we seem to be lacking greatly in Ugandan's workforce.In the workplace, it is an unnecessary cost and at school teachers qualify once and they will forever be and what they have on the date of qualifying, you shall always get that and no more! In a management role of an academic institution, I once passed by a classroom where a qualified higher education teacher who possibly last graduated in the 90s, was teaching accounts, to be specific, VAT and the base figure used to calculate VAT was 17% instead of 18%. I later interacted with the teacher and I mentioned 'that class has qualified to fail an interview should VAT calculation be included'. The defence was, the textbook has 17%. Not only does the country lack a working framework on human capital investment and development also self-development is not a language to find with the workforce and students in Uganda. World over, information access has greatly improved with the emergence of technology and so is self-development. This foundational problem can be traced from the methods of teaching and learning that disempowers the learner throughout the learning process. It’s unfortunate but not surprising to find a lecturer at a university in Uganda dictating notes to adult students!

Is it wastage to empower employees staff/teachers?

We have convinced ourselves to believe so. "The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay" Henry Ford

What does data say about Human Capital Development in Uganda?

The World Bank(WB) report, “Economic Development and Human Capital in Uganda: A Case for Investing More in Education” is advising the government to consider scraping Primary Leaving Exam (PLE). The report gained much appreciation, having described a problem we have had for decades-such a report with all the good intentions, make all of us look dumb, void of rationality. We did not have to wait for the World Bank report to recognize we have a problem. Education Statistics show, out of 1,877,801 pupils that started P.1 in 2011, a total of 1,193,634 (64%) never appeared to sit for PLE 2018. The World Bank report puts the figure of those missing out each year at 1.4m pupils. I don't know whether our 'planners' envisage the reality of the problem and what's this abandoned illiterate population brings on the table-trust me, as long as they are living beings, they have to bring something good or undesirable. This has to have effects on the economic, political, and social productivity of the entire country.

The imbalances in our development strategy that neglects education as a priority sector will always affect productivity and economic growth. It's not plausible to separate human capital development and productivity growth when you look at well-to-do countries in Europe, Asia and North America.

Whereas the World Bank strongly points out PLE a major deterrent factor, we cannot overlook other factors including the corrupted attitudes toward education in our societies, poverty, lack of education facilities, and the teaching quality and motivation.

Relevancy of the acquired Education

The World Bank revelation also mentions that even those who attend school practically receive less learning. I am sure you’re wondering how possible this can be if your kids leave home at 5 am and return at 6 pm. This may also not necessarily imply the quality of teachers but the methods of teaching as well. In relation to the present times, the methods of teaching could be stale. A student should have developed a Higher Order of Thinking before aiming for post-secodary education. The WB report mentions that, “While the UPE policy resulted in considerable gains in terms of access to primary education, this was not accompanied by adequate progress in learning outcomes. Only 6 percent of students in Uganda can read a paragraph at the end of the fourth grade (P4), which is well below the comparator countries”. The teaching methods for primary classes should focus on developing a learner’s cognitive abilities, problem-solving, reading and writing and numeracy-this is not a trend familiar to most of the teaching staff. Therefore, regular training of teachers is required and this can be feasible with the support of technologies in education. One would argue that most teachers are technology-illiterate and I will ask, how do you become a teacher of learners in the 21st century who are proficient in the use of technologies? It’s going to be problematic in the near future to have a teacher who is technology averse. Teachers must embrace technology to better support themselves and learners.


The report advises government to consider formative assessment as an alternative to PLE. However, choosing to go for formative assessment requires a dedicated plan including re-training teachers to understand the objectives, the processes and the expected outcome. It also calls for reducing the number of pupils in a single classroom as formative assessment looks at a pupil and not a class. It is a task that one may not handle with a class of 70 pupils.

The underlying factor, the government of Uganda should consider investing in the education sector a priority. Under investment and no investment in the education sector produces the same results. Having only 36% of expected learners completing the 7th year is not anywhere near good or fair and any attempts to downplay the problem to avoid financial commitment to the sector is a disaster in making. The education budget (less than 10%), is reported the lowest in the region and way under average to cause a definite transformation in relation to population growth. Not investing in education, is also an investment in nothing and the population will give back exactly that in productivity and economic growth and in this case with a negative multiplier effect.

Moses M. Mwebaze Commonwealth Scholar Institute of Educational Technologies The Open University This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.