KAMPALA, Uganda – Uganda’s ministry of education is looking toward low-cost private schools to counter the failure of the public school system caused by teacher absenteeism, poor facilities and high dropout rates.
According to the BBC, 68 percent of Ugandan students do not complete elementary school. Teachers are ill-prepared for their careers, with 78 percent failing a basic math test and 61 percent failing a basic literacy test.
The public system also suffers from a lack of inclusion that leaves many disabled students without access to appropriate education. Only about 150 schools are implementing inclusive education.
Uganda’s education climate is further complicated by the high birth rate, stemming partly from a culture of polygamy, according to The Economist, which also highlighted the need for early childhood development. Uganda’s education ministry intends to offer nurseries in every primary school.
The U.S.-funded Bridge International Academies now runs 63 primary schools with 12,000 students in Uganda at a cost of $14 to $28 per three-month term. Critics complain the schools rely excessively on technology, resulting in low-quality teaching.
Christian organizations such as the Rafiki Foundation are looking to fill the need for high-quality, affordable private education in Uganda and other sub-Saharan African countries.
About one hour outside Kampala sits the Rafiki Training Village, a 55-acre compound consisting of agricultural lands, playing fields, and 25 residential and educational buildings. The center provides education for students– some fee-paying, some on scholarships–from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 who live in the village and in surrounding communities.
According to the Rafiki Foundation website, students receive a classical Christian education that “integrates a biblical worldview into a traditional liberal arts core of arts, letters, sciences, and mathematics.” A Bible study is an essential part of the curriculum.
“Together, the Rafiki School Curriculum and the Rafiki Bible Study train the children to think, live, and lead others from a biblical worldview. It is our hope that they will become Christian leaders in politics, education, business, science, and the arts as well as within their homes, churches, and communities,” the website continues.