During a school visit and lesson observation I chatted with some of the teachers about class sizes. How many in this class? 138. That’s almost 140 P1 children crammed into one class! Squeezed like sardines on benches, and some sitting on the floor out the front. It’s impossible to move throughout the classroom.

Why so many? Well, the number one reason is: the more children you have, the more money a school gets. Although we have all heard about ‘Free Education for All’ and ‘Universal Primary Education’, it’s not really free; that’s just what the international community hears. Parents pay school fees. It may not seem much to us, but it certainly can be to parents; an average government school here will charge about 40,000 Ugandan shillings per term (£8, $14.50); and parents also have to supply books, uniform, toilet paper, a soft broom and a hard broom (that’s just a given). And along with parents paying school fees for each child; the government gives ‘grants’ to each school depending on how many children they have: 7000 shillings per child per term (that’s about £1.40 or $2.50) per child three times a year. This slowly adds up when you have around 140 in a class, so why stop at the government recommended number of 55 children in one class…

 

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