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The role of democracy in Uganda's move to universal primary education

Stasavage, David (2005) The role of democracy in Uganda's move to universal primary education. Journal of Modern African Studies, 43 (1). pp. 53-73. ISSN 0022-278X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0022278X04000618


In recent years several democratically elected African governments have abolished primary school fees following pledges made during presidential election campaigns. Among these cases, Uganda’s Universal Primary Education (UPE) program, launched in 1997, has received particular attention, due to the massive increase in primary school enrollment, as well the sustained increase in public spending on education that it has entailed. This paper asks whether the Ugandan government’s policies in this area can be explained by the prior establishment of competitive elections in 1996. It provides several reasons to believe that the move to UPE has indeed been linked to democratic politics, and that this outcome has depended on the salience of education as an issue, as well as on the public’s access to information about UPE. As a result, recent Ugandan experience helps show why the establishment of competitive elections might prompt an African government to spend more on primary education. However, it also suggests why in many African countries, a democratic transition will have little effect on primary education provision.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: Published 2005 © Cambridge University Press. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL ( of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2006
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 21:15

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