Ugandans views on public primary schooling

Twaweza works on enabling children to learn, citizens to exercise agency and governments to be more open and responsive in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The Uwezo annual national learning assessment continues to be a core initiative of Twaweza and has been carried out since 2009 in Uganda. Its purpose is to collect independent data on the level of Ugandan children’s capacities in basic literacy and numeracy, as well as to communicate the findings directly to parents, in the national media, and to national-level actors in the education sector.

Both teacher and pupil attendance are key factors for achieving learning outcomes. In 2016, Twaweza in Uganda designed an experimental initiative to promote discussion of these issues between parents, school staff and local leadership. Part of the formative baseline, Twaweza commissioned a study to assess the perception of Ugandans on key education-related issues, including teacher and pupil absenteeism, and parental involvement and participation in schools.


Twaweza East Africa commissioned Research World International in October 2016 to gather feedback on a number of issues of programmatic relevance, through a nationally representative “omnibus” survey. Conducted through randomly selected quantitative face-to-face interviews with respondents 15 years and above, the survey used a semi-structured questionnaire administered through smartphones. A sample size of 2,252 interviews was determined with an error margin of +-2% at 95% confidence interval. This sample was distributed proportionately based on the estimated population size, representative of the rural/urban stratification by region and sub-region.

Key highlights

Among Ugandans with a primary school-going child in the household:

  • Parents perceive pupil absenteeism as a considerably larger problem than a teacher or head teacher absenteeism from school. 
  • Majority of Ugandan parents (60%) are interested in following up teacher attendance in their schools.
  • Almost half (47%) believe that if they asked the headteacher to see the attendance register, they would be allowed to do so.
  • However, less than half (40%) think there are enough teachers in school for all grades.
  • There appear to be distinct groups of parents according to their engagement with the school: 37% of parents are quite disengaged in that they do not go to school meetings either when invited by the school nor of their own accord. On the other hand, another 37% go both when invited as well as of their own accord.

In the opinion of Ugandans in this survey, teachers and head teachers appear to be performing their duties well: they are thought to be present in school and class and to assign and check homework. These perceptions are interesting as they offer quite a contrast to findings from several studies which have described acute absenteeism of head teachers and teachers from their schools, with some placing absenteeism rates between 40% and 50% and some reporting that Uganda’s teacher and head teacher absenteeism could be the highest in the world. These findings are supported through our own Uwezo Annual Learning Assessments: e.g. in 2012 we found that at least 1 out of every 10 teachers was absent from school on the day of assessment.

For Twaweza, it will be important to explore further this disconnect between people’s perceptions and the reality, as parental awareness of these key issues of quality of education is likely the first step if they are to be engaged in solving the issues.

Read the full monitoring brief here.



Read more: education Uganda



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