Uganda: Make Pre-Primary Education Free

It is time for the government of Uganda to provide access to free pre-primary education for all children to improve education in the country.

Development Diaries reports that recent research by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) has documented how lack of access to free pre-primary education leads to poorer performance in primary school, higher repetition, and drop-out rates, and widening income inequality in Uganda.

The report, titled Lay a Strong Foundation for All Children”: Fees as a Discriminatory Barrier to Pre-Primary Education in Uganda, explained how fewer than one in ten Ugandan children, ages three to five, are enrolled in a registered and licenced pre-primary school, and 60 percent attend no school at all until they reach primary school.

This has been identified as a problem because the pre-primary years are a critical time for children’s development, and children who miss out on pre-primary education may never catch up to their peers.

It is also understood that the lack of government-funded pre-primary also inhibits Uganda’s economic development.

In 1997, the Ugandan government implemented free primary education, and in 2007, it also instituted free secondary education.

However, pre-primary education is to be funded by parents and given by private organisations, according to the country’s 2008 education law.

When a parent does not have access to government-funded pre-primary education, the annual tuition for one child can cost many months of salary.

Early childhood education is crucial for cognitive and social development, providing children with foundational skills that enhance their learning capabilities in later years.

Without access to quality pre-primary education, many Ugandan children enter primary school ill-prepared, leading to higher dropout rates and lower educational attainment overall.

This educational deficit results in a less skilled workforce, limiting the country’s ability to innovate and compete in a globalised economy.

Development Diaries calls on the Ugandan government to make at least one year of pre-primary education compulsory and free for all children and make additional years free over time.

Source: Human Rights Watch

Photo source: Human Rights Watch


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