Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and education is at the heart of all the work we do at S.A.L.V.E International. Education, both formal and informal, can give you the knowledge, skills and confidence to build a better future.In Uganda many people are competing for a limited number of good jobs, and without a decent education it is very hard to get one or have the confidence to initiate your own business instead. Uganda has 83% youth employment, one of the highest rates in the world, according to the World Bank. The government in Uganda views education as a basic human right, but getting access to education in the first place can be a very big challenge. In 1997 the Ugandan government introduced universal primary education, the idea that all children should be able to attend primary school for free. The government then introduced secondary education in 2007. The demand for free education, unfortunately, outstrips the availability of places at the free government schools. It is not uncommon for classes to have well over one hundred student, with very little in the way for facilities, and unmotivated, over-worked teachers heading them. For most of the population, especially those who want a higher education, this means that the only other option is private school. Private schools in Uganda vary enormously in fees and quality.Paying school fees is beyond lots of families, especially when they have a lot of children. This ends up with many children sitting at home, getting no education, waiting for relatives to try to scrape together enough money to send them back to school. Matters are made worse, however, by the fact that at all schools there are many extra school requirements to pay for on top of other fees. From schools books to brooms, smart shoes and uniforms. Each child must turn up at the gates with everything asked for them, or they risk being sent back home.Funding an education is sometimes a seemingly impossible task for many children and their families, and a lot of children only manage to pay part of their fees. This is a very common occurrence, and even if a child has worked hard at school, if they cannot pay their fees in full they are not given their school reports or their exam certificates. Their whole year of learning is effectively made worthless. As children can’t afford to pay their fees, many of them end up changing schools every term, building up debts wherever they go. Schooling starts of at primary school, most Ugandan children begin their education at the age of six and most finish by the age of thirteen. As of the early 2000s, over eighty percent of primary school age children were enrolled. In primary school, children take four main subjects; Math, English, Science, and Social Studies. In their Social Studies they learn about Geography, History, and Religious Studies. Depending on whether the school provides it, Agriculture is also an option of taking as a fifth subject. The grading scale for primary school starts out as 0% to 29% is failing, 30% to 49% is pass, 50% to 79% is credit, and 80% to 100% is distinction. For secondary school they subjects the children take part in are Math, English and Science, which includes Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Grading scales for secondary school starts with 0% to 53% is Class Six, which is also known as fail, 54% to 61% is Class Five, 62% to 68% is Class Four, 69% to 72% is Class Three, 73% to 81% is Division Two and 82% to 100% is Division One. Children are in seven years of primary school before advancing onto secondary, that is only if they pass the leaving examinations. Of those that did graduate from primary schooling, less than twenty-five percent enroll in a secondary school. The school year starts in February and ends in December. Their first term goes from February to April, the second term is from May until August, and the third term is from September to December. The education system in Uganda follows a similar pattern to those in Britain. The children are in primary school for seven years, Primary 1 to Primary 7, and then go on to continue through secondary school for the following six years, Senior 1 to Senior 6. There are three most important school years for a child in Uganda, they are Primary 7, all students must take leaving exams which will determine which secondary school they go on to, Senior 4 and Senior 6. In Uganda the school systems is very competitive. There are so many children who want to get an education, in order to improve their grad average and national standing schools all over the country are able to pick and choose the best students. Testing is relentless for the students, as every term they have to take exams as well as having ongoing assessments of their performance, based on their results they are given a class ranking and a grade. If the child is successful, they fan can then move on to the next school year in the New Year. If their performance is poor they may have to repeat the school year again. Classes in Uganda are not based on the child’s age as many children drop out and re-enter school since they sometimes cannot afford to pay the school fees. With the children dropping out and re-entering, this means that they could end up in classes with students who are a lot older or a lot younger than them. This may seem strange to us since we are used to be in classes with other students in the same age range, the most important factor in Uganda is that they all just want to learn. If you were to get the opportunity to ask a child if they would prefer to go to a boarding school or day school, their answer would almost always come back as boarding school. In boarding schools in Uganda, children are provided with a much better education than they are in day school, as the students are able to receive extra classes in the evenings. It is hard to be a teacher in Uganda, as they are generally faced with poor resources and such large class sizes, that it becomes incredibly difficult for you to give that one-on-one attention to those students who need it most. After the day school pupils go home after classes, the teachers are finally able to work on a more individual basis with the borders. Schools in Uganda face huge challenges due from their lack of facilities. Lacking those needed facilities makes it far harder for the teachers to teach at a reasonable standard and most importantly for the children to learn. Imagine schools that are often only half built, without textbooks or any kind of teaching aids beyond a blackboard to help stimulate the children’s minds. When and if the schools do improve its facilities, they would also have to raise its fees so that they can cover the improvement cost.This is why organizations are keen to find ways they can partner with the schools and institutions to increase opportunities and access to improve educational standards. This has so far included many people volunteering their skills and running the extracurricular activities in schools and out trees for integration programme planting fruit trees for the poorest children to access. Since Uganda is riddled with unemployment and young people without much hope, vocational training is a very important option, especially for children who are more keen to enter a specific trade or are more practical based learners. There are many courses the children can choose from, popular options including carpentry, catering, tailoring, hairdressing, or becoming a mechanic. Many of the vocational courses have entry limits on them as to what level you must have reached academically to join them so this can also be a limiting factor, along with the expense of the courses, which vary and all courses require some level of funding to participate. It is clearer to see the link between a vocational course and a job at the end, though often people struggle to get the money they need to start up a small business or buy the tools needed to join a workshop. Students who are able to pass their secondary school A-levels may chose to go on to university, where the can study for degrees, or to other institutions that award diplomas and certificates. There are a total of five state universities, eleven religiously-affiliated universities, and ten private secular universities in Uganda. There are also four technical colleges, which one of the four is private. Less than fifty percent of Ugandan students who qualify for tertiary education find places to study at. University of Makerere is the second oldest and by far the largest institution, founded in 1922 and sited on a hill overlooking Kampala. University of Makerere has a number of campuses and eight halls of residence, two of those eight are for womenThe government in Uganda gives scholarship to roughly 4,000 universities each year, and sponsors thousands of other students in other tertiary institutions. But tens of thousands of students who do not get the competitive government scholarships depend on their relatives to pay their tuition and upkeep.There are a growing number of universities and courses to offer in Uganda, but the cost of them prohibits many students from being able to even consider going onto further education. There is a new student loan system that is available, but you need to come from a wealthy background to be able to access it, as you need to be able to guarantee you will pay back the loan. Ugandan females are classified as a “disadvantaged” group, along with the disabled, poor students, orphans, and migrant. Dropout rates are high and increase to higher levels for females. Persistence in primary school for girls is less than it is for boys. In first grade classes girls makeup roughly forty-six percent but when they go onto secondary school they makeup roughly thirty-nine percent. Makerere University has a deliberate policy of giving 1.5 points to each female applicant who qualifies for entrance to increase their competitiveness in the entry process. This policy has raised the number of women on campus. Some Ugandan communities often think that men will make more significant economic contributions in the future, with this being said, men are opt to more training. Many ethnic groups believe that a “girl’s place is in the home” and her primary goal in life should be marrying and start families early in life, this limits access to education, especially in rural Uganda. Cultural attitudes about girl’s role are strong and resist rapid change. Many ethnic groups do not favor educating girls because they feel that they will just marry into another group and the value of their education will not benefit their families. To surprise, there are signs of change however, including the fact that as average levels of bride-wealth paid for educated wives rises, parents put higher values on educating girls. Also, some Uganda’s are beginning to believe that if a daughter has a steady income, she will care for aged parents, while boys might spend their money on their wives. These new cultural beliefs work to the advantage of girls.President Yoweri Museveni also plays a role in the increase in female enrollment since he favors sex equity in education. Many female soldiers fought with him when liberating Uganda from Idi Amin’s dictatorial control. Museveni, therefore, probably feels obligated to be fair to women. East Indians, known as “Asians” in Uganda, built their own schools for Indian and Pakistani children. The Agha Khan, for example, built excellent schools for the Islamic sect known as Ismailis. Sunni and Shiite Muslims also built schools, and there were Hindu temple schools. Europeans also built special high-quality, expensive international schools for their children. In 1971 Idi Amin expelled “Asians” from Uganda, but the closure of their schools had little impact on Uganda’s education system since very few Africans attend these schools. The European and Asian populations were less than one percent of Uganda’s population, even though they were the wealthiest element and exercised influence over Uganda’s economy. A few Europeans and Asians stayed on throughout Amin’s xenophobic years.