UPE and social inequality in Uganda: A step backward or a step in the right direction?
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Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit
University of Cape Town
It is widely agreed that studying the relationship between school quality and academic achievement will benefit public investment in education. This is particularly true in Africa where, the 1990 World Conference on Education for All led to renewed commitments to quality basic education. At this time, Uganda implemented a set of public reforms that were designed to increase educational opportunities in poor communities. This paper uses data from the second wave of a cross-national survey of schools in Southern and Eastern Africa to assess some dimensions of these Ugandan reforms. Hierarchical linear models are estimated to investigate which schools most effectively ensure a meaningful educational experience for children who face economic and social hardships. Contrary to earlier studies in developing countries, the positive relationship between socioeconomic status and student performance is striking and significant. In line with the school effectiveness theory, resource availability proves to be consistently related to educational quality and its equitable distribution in Uganda.