Link Community Development

Improving the quality of education in Africa

Uganda School Improvement Programme (USIP)

The Uganda School Improvement Programme (USIP) provided a framework within which Link’s interventions were implemented over the period 2006-2010 in four districts of Masindi, Buliisa, Katakwi and Soroti which were identified as the districts facing the most challenges with primary education. The USIP approach was information-driven and used Ministry of Education and Sport’s information systems to identify priority areas for improvement at the school level. USIP followed a “whole district” approach rather than focusing on just a few schools. 

Funder: Rockefeller Foundation

Total Funding: US $380,000

Date: 2006-2010

The Challenge

Information management and usage was identified as a critical limiting factor in the districts’ efforts to implement the key policies of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and administrative decentralisation. National concern had been growing regarding the quality of UPE. In particular, the publication of the National Assessment of Progress in Education (NAPE) report proved that the performance of primary pupils in literacy and numeracy was well below age-appropriate expectations.  As a result, the main thrust of education policy had been to support improvement in the performance of primary pupils in these core curriculum areas. There was also an active debate over the mobilisation of the district education inspectorates. The issue of the capacity of districts to impact on the quality of education delivery remained high on the national agenda. Clearly there was an urgent need for cost effective models for district and school improvement for rural districts.

The approaches to information use for school improvement developed by Link in Masindi were working effectively and had the potential for wider applicability in Uganda. Through USIP, Link aimed to further develop the model and test its robustness and replicability.

Project Aims

USIP aimed to turn districts into effective users of school information. The expected outcomes of USIP included the following:

  • Improving community participation in decision making and holding schools accountable for their performance.
  • Improving the capacity of district officials and head teachers to effectively manage schools improvement in collaboration with their local communities.
  • Improving equitable access to quality education for girls and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Improving the learning outcomes for pupils in Literacy and Numeracy
  • Informing government policy on decentralization and quality primary education.

Project Activities

The School Performance Review (SPR) process was at the core of USIP. This includes:

  • Annual collection and analysis of school information using specialised data collection tools. 
  • Production of Individual School Performance Review (SPR) Reports and the District Summary SPR Reports
  • Individual Annual School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAMs) at which the individual SPR Reports were presented
  • Annual District Education Conferences at which the District Summary SPR Reports were presented.
  • District Strategic Planning to address issues raised in the District Summary SPR Reports

Other USIP interventions included training on School Management, Literacy & Numeracy and Enhancing Community Participation in Education.

USIP piloted the posting of School Development Officers (SDOs) in each of the sub-counties in Masindi and Buliisa districts. Their role was to support school management development, school performance review, and school development planning at the sub-county level.

Headline Achievements

As evidence of the value that the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) placed on USIP, Link was invited by the Ministry in 2006 to share office space with the Directorate of Education Standards (DES) and to regularly contribute to national education sector working groups.  These working groups include: the Second Education for All / End of Decade Assessment (EFA/EDA), Quality Enhancement Initiative (QEI), Teacher Effectiveness, and School Management and Monitoring/Evaluation.

Through USIP, Link Uganda has been recognised as one of the most effective education sector Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Uganda that supplements government efforts towards delivery of quality education services.

430 schools in its focus districts (Masindi, Buliisa, Soroti and Katakwi) have seen a speedy and significant improvement in performance in the Primary Leaving Examination.

Link facilitated the annual District Education Conferences (EDUCONs) and School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAMs) gave school level stakeholders a platform to contribute to school improvement.

By documenting and sharing the evidence of its work, Link has been able to inform and influence the national education policy.  Link’s innovative Headteacher and school governing bodies training programmes have been adopted by the Ministry of Education and Sport, while SPR has been integrated into national school inspections cycle and Monitoring Learning Achievement (MLA) by the Directorate of Education Standards.