Exporting Education

In 2004/5 over US $30 million came into Uganda from education services, the fourth highest external earner after remittances by Ugandan nationals, coffee, and fish exports, according to New Vision. Although this statistic is a bit outdated, it is clear that there is an enormous investment opportunity here. In 2006 non-Ugandans made up 13% of the student population enrolled in universities, and in total over 30,000 non-Ugandan students were enrolled at all levels of the education sector. See this report by the Uganda Export Promotion Board for an analysis of potential opportunities and challenges in this sector and others.

Although there is money to be made on this front, perhaps more important is the fact that the sector is as yet unprepared for the massive influx of students that are about to come through the ranks from primary school. There are over 7 million primary students in Uganda today — a full quarter of the population — and currently not enough teachers or classrooms to teach them when they reach secondary school. Over 450,000 sat for their primary exit examinations in 2006, but only half were able to continue to secondary school due to space and capacity constraints. And of course at some point one has to wonder what jobs will be available for these millions of students when they graduate in a few years time…