Partnerships For Free Public Education in Uganda
By Admassu Kassahun, Post Doctoral Fellow
In many sub-Saharan Africa countries, a large number of young people completing primary schools under free primary education (FPE) programs are seeking admission to secondary schools. However, there is an increasing concern that children from poor households will not be able to access secondary education if secondary schools continue to charge fees. In response to this concern, many governments have extended the minimum level of basic education from primary to lower secondary education and removed secondary school fee payments.
Nevertheless constrained by limited public resources, governments are not able to provide sufficient public secondary school places to meet the increasing demand. This has resulted in a large unmet demand for schools and decline in quality of education. Public-private partnership in delivering secondary education has been promoted to fill the gap in demand and supply. The government of Uganda adopted the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a policy solution for Universal Secondary Education (USE).
Partnership for Public Education Program(PPEP) is initiated and implemented by ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) in collaboration with PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) to widen access to affordable and quality secondary education in Uganda through public-private partnership arrangement with the Ministry of Education and Sports. Under PPEP program, 10 “model” secondary schools will be built and managed by ARK-PEAS partnership over 5 years in districts where there is low access to public secondary education. The first two PPEP schools have been built and opened in 2011 in two districts (Namutumba & Mayuge) in Eastern Uganda. The remaining 8 schools are to be opened in other deserving districts in the coming two years.
The Role of APHRC’s Education Research Program
The Education Research Program (ERP), as an independent impact evaluator, will assess the impact of the program on access, equity, quality, and students’ learning achievements in English and Maths over the coming 5 years. Between 4th and 13th April 2012, the APHRC ERP team carried out a baseline survey. The team members participated in the design workshop with representatives from ARK, PEAS, and Directors and Head Teachers from the two study districts between April 2nd and 3rd in Kampala.
The field interviewers were trained from April 4th to 6th and the data collection was done from April 10th to 13th in four schools located the two study districts. The survey collected demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of students, school characteristics from head teachers, and English and Math subject specific information from English and Math teachers. In addition, Maths and English lessons were video filmed to analyze teachers teaching practice, students’ participation and to better understand the teaching-learning processes in classrooms.
Some Experiences from the Field
Below are some data collection challenges we encountered because the survey was undertaken during the end of term exam period.
- Students were busy preparing for and taking exams and did not have time to be interviewed on their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. Though delayed, all the planned field interviews did take place.
- Head teachers and teachers were also busy with exams and had little time for the interview. In some schools, since there were no regular classes, teachers arrived late to schools and field interviewers had to work late in the evening to complete data collection.
- There were arrangements with schools through the school Director and DEOs office to reserve one day for the survey by postponing their exam by one day. However, it seems that schools found it difficult to adjust their examinations schedules with our survey timetable given the short notice and the fact that students were already prepared for the exam. Though understandable, this caused delays and late completion of data collection.
- Despite the challenges, the head teacher, teachers and students were very cooperative, and our field workers worked very hard to complete the survey in time. In general, the baseline survey was a great success and we look forward to the results in the next couple of months.