Policy Reports

Y4P Policy Paper

von Donnas Ojok

Policy Options for Combatting University Education Dropouts in Uganda

This paper tackles the problem of high university dropout rates of students from low-income earning backgrounds. It highlights the consensus on why this is the case. It also points out the fact that this phenomenon has not received adequate attention and from the analysis, most of the legal provisions and policies do not provide a strategy to counter student dropout rates as discovered from the findings which show that most of the survey participants do not know of any mechanism to counter this phenomenon. I follow up with recommendations to combat high dropout rates by suggesting that key stakeholders should abolish unfair tuition policies, increase district quota enrolment, revise how education loan schemes are allotted and develop a strategy to combat the dropout of students from the university.
Policy Options for Combatting University Education Dropouts in Uganda herunterladen Over the past years, there has been a surge in the dropout rate of students from low-income earning backgrounds in Uganda. This development is attributed mainly to the increase of university tuition fees, yet other factors may additionally contribute. According to the 2016 “Africa Higher Education Student Survey Project”, almost 30% of all students in Uganda, who join university education on various degree programmes drop out. In a survey carried out by Jessica N. Aguti et al., approximately 83.7% of student dropouts are attributed to the poor family background as they come from low-income families. According to UBOS, a low-income earning background applies when “the average annual consumption expenditure per adult [...] is UGX 46,233.65, that is to say, the average amount of money a person spends on goods and services in a year”. There is little data about the pathways of tertiary students from low-income families but conclusions can be drawn. For instance, UBOS (2017) notes that students (aged 22-25) from urban settings are characterized by tertiary In Uganda, students from low-income backgrounds can and want to be productive members of society. In both developed and developing countries, promoting more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds requires improved access to funding, affirmative action, and the pursuit of inclusive policies with adaptations as needed. Many societies also recognize the need to make education a basic right and not just a privilege accessible to only the elite. This necessitates the creation of financing opportunities and providing information on a variety of formats that can ease everyone’s access to university education. Further still, it challenges attitudes and mistaken assumptions about the propriety and relevance of university education in ensuring development. completion rates that are almost three times higher than for their rural counterparts who stand at 7%. The lowest tertiary completion rate with 6.2% was recorded in Karamoja, one of the poorest regions of the country. The above statistics suggest that students from low-income backgrounds are more likely to drop out. If the plight of the students from low-income families is not addressed, we risk seeing rising social inequality in Uganda due to lack of access to formal employment by the university dropouts from low-income earning families. Whilst a university degree is not a guarantee to find employment, in a country where youth unemployment currently stands at 16.8% according to UBOS for those aged 15-24 years and 13.3% for those aged 18 – 30 years, it nevertheless is a contributor to social mobility and a possible engine for moving out of poverty. If the country does not succeed in including students from low-income earning backgrounds in tertiary education, poverty will manifest as a solid boundary to educational success and to opportunities for social mobility.

Donnas Ojok

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Donnas.Ojok@kas.de +256 312 262 011/2