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Uganda Jesus Village Blog


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Ugandan Schools

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM Comments comments (6355)
Many of my readers are from North America so I thought I would do an article comparing school systems.

The Uganda Jesus Village (UJV) has been operating since June 2006 so many of our kids are now teenagers - and some who were teenagers are now grown ups, yet they are still determined to continue their education. Even our oldest student, Alice who is twenty-one, is only the equivalent of a freshman in High School. Of our ten High School freshmen, the youngest is sixteen where the normal age for this grade in North America is fourteen.

The reason all of our UJV family are educationally delayed is the condition in the camps where they lived before we adopted them. (All our kids were adopted from the Awer Internally Displaced Peoples camp in the Gulu District of Northern Uganda.) Many were not able to go to school at all; of the ones who were in school – schools in the camps are of a lower standard than here in the capital city of Kampala. All of our kids had to repeat grades when we first adopted them. To make up for this our kids have a demanding study schedule where some are working to complete two school years in one to catch up. Wow. That is a lot of determination and study time!

Here is a list comparing how grades/classes are called in North America and Uganda:

North American Grade
Ugandan Class
Baby class

Baby "middle" class

Baby "top" class

First grade
P 1 (Primary 1)

P 2

P 3

P 4

P 5

P 6
 P 7
 National Exams - must pass to move up to secondary school
 S 1 (Senior 1)
 "O Level" (ordinary)
 S 2
 S 3
 S 4
 National Exams - must pass to advance to next level of education
 S 5
 "A Level" (advanced)
 S 6

Some further information on Ugandan Schools:

The Ugandan school year follows the calendar year and the year is broken up into trimesters called terms. The first term begins around the end of January and goes through the beginning of April. Most of April is a school holiday with the second term beginning in May. The second school holiday is in August and term three begins the first week of September with the school year ending in early December. So when North American students are starting their school year the Ugandan students are entering third term. Then there is a long holiday December to the end of January. (Our UJV family returns to Gulu to visit their guardians during the long holiday.)

Ugandan schools require school uniforms with black shoes. Plus students need a sports (gym) uniform and sports shoes. School fees consist of tuition, text book and school tour (field trip) fees, plus “requirements” – for example a ream of paper, toilet paper, and broom. And of course parents must also come up with school supplies and text books. All in all, sending a child to school is an expensive endeavor, yet parents go through great scarifies to get an education for their kids. 

Another difference in the school culture here in Uganda is the popularity of boarding schools. Rather than boarding schools being nearly exclusive to rich kids, many Ugandans attend boarding schools. Attending boarding school is very desirable; and rather than students missing their families, friends made in boarding school are often friends for life. Of our sixty kids, teens and young adults in our UJV family thirty-six are now in boarding school. The remainder of our family attends Lighthouse Primary School run by our local church, Streams of Life. 

We are praying for increased provision as Secondary School is more expensive. Tuition is higher, more text books are required and the text books are more expensive, etc. 

And now a word on text books, wow, there is a huge difference from what I grew up with in Iowa! It has taken me a long time to figure out how the Ugandan system works. In North American schools, the school owns the text books. Students are allowed to take text books home to do homework (called “preps” here in Uganda). North American text books are full of full color photos, illustrations, graphs, charts and other visual aids. The font is easy to read and the page is well space and easy on the eyes. In Uganda text books are altogether different. Text books are purchased by the family – if they can afford them! The text books are black and white or sometimes bits are in red font. The type is small and cramped. There are no full color visual aids. 

Now here is the really strange part – not all students who have text books have the same text book. The schools give a list of acceptable text books because when parents go shopping it may be hard to find the first choice version. Parents have to buy what they can find in this shop or that. I remember in my schools that teachers would tell students to open their books to page whatever and we would all read from the same text. We were, as the saying goes, on the same page. 

Teaching styles are also quite different from what I grew up with. Here in Uganda the teacher writes everything on a chalk board, lecture notes, quizzes, and tests. Students do not have workbooks corresponding to the text book. Students spend almost all their school day writing in their composition notebooks (no spiral or three ring binder notebooks). Study is dependent on how well a student takes notes as he is basically copying a text book from the chalk board to his composition book. Most of the instruction depends on rote memorization. Never the less Ugandan’s have a strong determination to receive an education so students learn well. School hours are longer here, going from 7am to 4:30pm. And then they have “prep” time (home work) as well. But students want to go to school and never say they hate school.

Welcome to Our New Website

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (550)
Welcome to our new website!

We have been offline for far too long. We had planned to open a robust website with lots of features and versatility but finances prevented us from fulfilling that plan. So I, Laura a volunteer, have created a basic website to keep us going until the fancier web site can be launched.

I will be adding content to the website over the next few days so check back soon for additional photos and biographies.