The education system in Uganda consists of the following stages:
Prepatory School children of about 4 years old
Primary School class P1 to P7
Secondary School class S1 to S4
Senior Secondary School class SS5 to SS6
Nursery/Kindergarten. Pre-school level. Ages three to six. Previously only within municipal areas but
recently being integrated into rural area schools.
Primary School. Seven year program starting at Primary 1 and ending at Primary 7. At the end of
Primary 7 pupils take the Primary Leaving Exams (PLE). Pupils passing the PLE can proceed to
Secondary School. Since 1997 attendance in Primary Schools is free, however, the parents or
caretakers do have to pay for "upkeep". Money is needed for the school uniform and shoes, writing
materials, books, notebooks, exams and tests. And it is difficult to learn on an empty stomach,
however, many do. In order to be able to cook meals schools need wood, pots and pans and a
number of people who are doing the cooking. All this costs money. The pupils have to pay for their
lunches. Sometimes schools have a building fund. The pupils are then expected to contribute to the
costs of this fund. The entire package of costs that have to be made is called up-keep.
Secondary School. Secondary school consists of two stages:
The first stage is a four year program, from Senior 1 (S1) to Senior 4 (S4), known as the O-level
period. At the end of S4 students take the Uganda Certificate of Education exam (UCE), or also
known as the O-level examination. Students passing the UCE may proceed to the second stage. After
S4 it is possible to attend vocational education.
The second stage is a two year program, from Senior 5 (SS5) to Senior 6 (SS6), known as the
A-levels or the Higher School Certificate (HSC). At the end of S6 students take the Uganda Advanced
Certificate of Education exams (UACE), or also known as the A-level examination. As of 2007 tuition
in secondary schools has been eliminated, however, due to limited resources, many schools require
students to have passed the PLE with a minimum score level in order to attend and in many areas
A-level schools are not available.
University and Other Tertiary Institutions. Students passing the UACE may attend universities or
other institutions that award diplomas or certificates. Some tertiary intuitions, like primary teachers'
colleges and some nursing schools, may admit students who have only completed the UCE.