Ugandan Education System
The Education system in Uganda is based on:
Primary school (duration: seven years)
There are seven primary school years from primary one (P1) to primary seven (P7). At the end of P7 students sit the national Primary School Leaving Examination (PLE).
Secondary school (duration: six years)
Pupils who pass their PLE can progress to secondary school. This has two stages. The first stage lasts four years, senior one (S1) to senior four (S4), after which students sit the second major national examination known as the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE), also known as O-levels.
Students who pass their UCE may progress to S5 and S6, after which they sit for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) examinations, also known as A-levels.
University and other tertiary institutions
Students who do well in the UACE may choose to progress to university where they can study for degrees or to other tertiary institutions that award diplomas and certificates.
Each year the Ugandan Government offers government sponsorship in tertiary education to approximately 4000 students based on the country’s need for trained people. The government sponsorship covers food, accommodation and course fees. However, it does not cover functional fees which cover college costs not specifically related to a particular course and includes items like library fees, IT fees, health centre fees, examination fees, graduation fees, sport fees, student guild fees etc.
Friends of Humanity Uganda – Sponsorship Scheme
FOHU operates in the Kisoro district of South West Uganda which includes the very rural areas around the Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks. When these parks were gazetted in 1991 people living in these areas were displaced losing their land and therefore their primary source of income from subsistence farming. This has had a long lasting adverse effect on the community which is evident to this day. FOHU is trying to address poverty in the area by empowering young people by providing education opportunities for highly gifted children from poor families, especially those with single parents, double orphans, girls and other marginalised children.
Its priority program provides quality secondary education for students in an area where many children drop out of formal education after primary school as a result of financial hardship. In addition FOHU tries to find sponsorship to cover the functional fees of children who have completed secondary education and have been offered government sponsorship in tertiary education, but would be unable to accept the government sponsorship without financial assistance with the functional fees which, as mentioned above, are not covered by the government sponsorship.
The sponsor of an FOHU student on government sponsorship in tertiary education discovered that the pocket money being supplied in additional to the money for the functional fees, was being used to support the student’s younger sibling in secondary education. This was being used to buy school uniforms and scholastic materials which the one parent family would not have been able to supply. However, at the end of S1 the sibling was on the verge of dropping out of secondary education due to the two hour walk to school in the morning and the two hour walk home in the evening. The journey had to be made on dusty tracks in the dry season and sometimes in torrential rain during the wet season. With no electricity in their village homework had to be done with the aid of a paraffin lamp.
This situation is common for secondary school students in rural parts of Africa and explains the low enrolment rates in secondary education and the high absence rates in schools in rural areas across Africa. It also illustrates the huge disadvantage students in rural areas of Africa face as regards education compared to students in more prosperous urban areas.
In order to give sponsored students a high quality secondary education and to enable them to compete with students in more affluent urban areas, students sponsored by FOHU are enrolled as boarders at Kisoro Vision Secondary School.
Kisoro Vision Secondary School
FOHU is affiliated to Kisoro Vision Secondary School (a mixed boarding/day school) which is consistently the best performing secondary school in the Kisoro district based on national examination results (UCE and UACE).
Education is an important tool for empowering young people but to be truly empowered children also need to develop leadership and people skills. The ethos of the school is to provide a holistic education and develops leadership and people skills by encouraging participation in numerous clubs and societies where students are expected to take the lead in planning and executing activities. This would not be possible for students in rural areas unless they are boarders.
In view of the background of the students the FOHU Sponsorship Scheme aims to cover all the expenses of their secondary education. A detailed budget for the education costs is attached (Annex A). In summary the costs are:
The fees for S1 and S5 students are higher than other years because new students pay a contribution to school facilities required for their level of study. In this regard S5 students are classed as new students irrespective of where they studied for their UCE examinations. These contributions are detailed in the copy of the student admissions letter – Annex B.
Friends of Humanity Uganda are seeking sponsors who are prepared to either sponsor, or part sponsor a child (50% or 33.3%) for the six years of their secondary education subject to satisfactory performance. Although it is hoped that sponsors will agree to sponsor a child throughout their secondary education it is appreciated that individual circumstances may change.
Sponsorship is normally paid annually or monthly by agreement. Potential sponsors are invited to make initial contact using the form in the ‘Contact Us’ section of the website (Main menu – About – Contact Us) and to specify their preferred payment method
FOHU is happy to consider alternative payment arrangements if it would help a sponsor. If applicable it is requested that the comments field on the form is used to explain what alternative arrangements a sponsor would like.
Cost of Sponsorship
FOHU is a small organisation and the Directors and Project Co-ordinator give their time for free. As a consequence the organisation’s overheads are small but include costs associated with registration fees, web site development/maintenance, bank/money transfer charges and an annual audit fee. The sponsorship charges include an element for overheads but FOHU receives a contribution to overheads from a different source.
Cost of Sponsorship/student – Pounds Stirling
(Based on an exchange rate of 1 UK pound = 4500 Ugandan shillings)
Cost of Sponsorship/student – US Dollars
(Based on an exchange rate of 1 US Dollar = 3600 Ugandan shillings)
Stewardship is a long established UK charity (registered number 234714) which aims to make giving money to charitable causes easy. Money given to Stewardship will be distributed to one or more approved charitable causes according to the donor’s wishes. As a UK charity Stewardship is under a legal obligation to ensure that money donated is used for charitable purposes. FOHU has been vetted and approved by Stewardship as a suitable organisation to receive charitable funds.
As a consequence UK tax payers can make donations to FOHU via Stewardship which can benefit from gift aid (normal gift aid rules apply – please see www.gov.uk/donating-to-charity/gift-aid for further details.)
The preferred method of donating to FOHU is via a Stewardship Giving account. The account is free and is easy to setup and donations can be made by standing order. (see Stewardship Giving website www.give.net for further details.)
Stewardship giving accounts are currently used by over 25,000 people to give over UK pounds 50 million each year to a whole range of causes close to their hearts. Over 19,000 recipients are registered to receive funds from Stewardship, including UK registered charities and selected overseas charities. FOHU is one of these selected overseas charities.
Interaction with Sponsored Students
All sponsors will receive details of the background of their sponsored child along with a photograph via email. Kisoro Vision Secondary School has well established procedures for monitoring the progress of students based on course work and examinations and produces a termly report so that the progress of students can be monitored. Examples of the termly reports are shown in Annex C (UCE students) and Annex D (UACE students). FOHU will email sponsors a copy of the termly report for their sponsored child.
FOHU welcomes interaction between sponsors and their sponsored children. This is clearly beneficial for the children and can lead to friendships which endure beyond the child’s education.
Sponsors are encouraged to write to their sponsored child. FOHU will print and forward three letters per year from sponsors which are emailed to the FOHU email address.
Students are always excited to receive letters and a letter from a sponsor is likely to be the first letter a sponsored child has ever received. The students are perhaps less enthusiastic about writing a reply in a second language (English is a second language for the students) but are encouraged to do so on up to three occasions per year. The letters will be forwarded to sponsors via email.
If a sponsor does not wish to correspond with a student this will of course be respected.
One question often asked is can sponsors communicate with their sponsored student by email? FOHU has no objections to this but it must be remembered that the children supported by FOHU are likely to come from houses without electricity and probably from villages without electricity and will not have equipment to access the Internet and send emails. On joining Vision SS the students are unlikely to have used or even seen a computer.
Vision SS is prepared to make their Internet access facilities available to students at set times outside normal lesson hours. However, this is only practical for more senior students who have had some computer training. Outside school terms it is likely that a student will have to use an Internet cafe and pay the associated charges. Although smart phones are becoming more common in Uganda, Vision SS does not permit them to be used at school.
One sponsor was keen to have email contact with a sponsored student and enquired whether a bank account could be opened for a sponsored student so that an international money transfer could be made to ensure the student had money for the Internet café charges. FOHU was happy to facilitate this arrangement.
Vision SS is happy for any sponsor visiting Uganda to visit the school during term time to meet their sponsored student. However, to avoid any disappointment it is requested that dates for a visit are agreed in advance
Annex A – Detailed budget
Annex B – Admission Letter
Annex C – Report form for UCE students
Annex D – Report form for UACE students