Like most of the locations where I have been in Sub-Saharan Africa, education is important. There are government funded schools here in Kampala. There are also private schools. The general opinion of everyone is that private is better.

It certainly is more expensive with a wide range of variation from “looks just like a shack with dirt yard” to full, formal buildings of most modern style surrounded by high fences, electric security gates and armed guards at the entrance. Some of the schools seem to run on nationality lines, others on religious. All seem to have a mandatory school uniform.

I found a number of different references and listing for schools, some of which just don’t make any sense. Wiki of course has a summary article. Part of the reason for the extensive private system can be found in the fact that primary education wasn’t free [for up to four children/family] until 1997. The implications of that simple sentence are profound. Prior to then, literacy would have been a privilege reserved for those with educated parents/ability to pay school fees. And then there is the limit on how many children/family can be educated on the states schilling. Obviously not enforced, one can understand the stress on the system.

The driver I had for both that evening from the airport and yesterday has six children ranging in age from 6 – 17. All are in school. Those old enough to have taken and passed their PLE (Primary Leaving Exams have all done well and have their completion of primary school certificates. They all have gone to private, religious affiliated schools. Similar to Zambia and Zimbabwe, Catholicism has a strong hold on the Christian sector. Unlike the fundamental Protestant religions, there isn’t much interference with traditional practices, customs and large families are encouraged.

There is also a strong industry in colleges and Universities: I counted more than 30 just on my trip yesterday through part of the city.

I find the names of many of the schools interesting, but most don’t have websites or anyway I can ask. Railway Children? Is this for children whose parents work for the rail? But it seems that the rail, dating from colonial times hasn’t gone through to Kampala since the 1970s. This lives 8km between Kampala and Port Bell and the 190 km to the Kenyan border. Go figure.

Where was I? Oh yes, thinking about schools as a riot of children laugh, play, splash and scream outside in the pool. They have been at it all day. The occasional adult slowing them down when boys cannonballing into the pool soak a few adults lazing near by.

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