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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 14:05 GMT
Free schooling for needy Ugandans
School children on a truck in Uganda, taken by BBC News website reader Alan Magness
High school fees mean many students drop out
Uganda will provide universal free education to poor secondary school students - beginning next month, education ministry officials have said.

But the education minister insists that the programme - the first in East Africa - will only be accorded to high performing students.

Uganda is receiving donor support to implement the free education project.

President Yoweri Museveni pledged to help needy high school students during his re-election campaign last year.

Many students have been dropping out of secondary school because of the high cost of school fees.

High demand

Education experts in the capital, Kampala, say the demand for secondary schools has been high since the government introduced free primary education in 1997, but government facilities are limited.

Only students with aggregate four to 32 will be enrolled for the free education at secondary schools,"
Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire
Education minister

Only 40% of the 350,000 primary school graduates in the country are absorbed into secondary schools each year.

An estimated 100,000 students are expected to be enrolled into the programme that begins in February.

Education Minister Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire says only those with good marks will be considered.

"Only students with aggregate four to 32 will be enrolled for the free education at secondary schools," said Ms Bitamazire.

Aggrey Kibenge, the spokesman at the education ministry, explained the government will pay the tuition fees for poor but deserving students for the entire lower secondary school level education.

A selection of private schools across Uganda will also be included in this initiative to widen its reach.

The Japanese government will provide teaching expertise while the African Development Bank will give a grant to fund the construction of schooling facilities.

Country profile: Uganda
21 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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