Sunday, 8 November 2015

Promoting Religious Purposefulness in Private Schools and Institutions in Uganda

Promoting Religious Purposefulness in Private Schools and Institutions in Uganda

Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions (UNAPSI) intends to work with the growing widening private schools and institutions sector to increase the schools’ focus on, and effectiveness in advancing the religious development of their students.

UNAPSI will;             

(1) Work with private schools head teachers (especially primary and secondary schools) to develop action plans and assessment tools to enhance the capacity of their educators to promote spiritual growth in the areas of their students’ relationship with God and their religious beliefs and actions, in line with each school’s goals;

(2) Increase their own knowledge base to better enable head teachers to teach their students how to promote religious purposefulness; and

(3) Create and disseminate, for private schools, best educational practices designed to enhance spiritual growth.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Case for Multi-Campus Private Schools in Uganda

The Case for Multi-Campus Private Schools in Uganda

Private education has been in an era of expansion over the past decade, with class sizes increasing at many schools and institutions, new schools and institutions opening, and some existing schools adding distant campuses. The opening of multi-campus schools poses new issues related to accreditation, communication, distance education technology, and organizational structure and governance. A number of private schools and institutions have had dual or multi-campus operations for many years. In recent times there are more and more schools going down this road. UNAPSI explores some of the reasons for having or developing a multi-campus operation and some of the challenges it presents.

Why more than one Campus

There appear to be three main reasons for developing an additional campus or campuses. One is in response to enrolment demand. The second is to reflect or reinforce the school’s organizational structure and the third is to provide a different educational dimension for a group of students. The reasons aren’t always separable.

(a) Enrolment Demand
Over the past 20 years the growth of private school enrolments has been steady and strong. The private sector the average size of enrolment per school has increased by over 30%.  The demand for private education is likely to remain strong. Funding policies have meant that young families have increased accessibility. Many have greater disposable income than their parents at a similar age and they look for the dependable quality that a private school is likely to be able to deliver.

It is not always easy for schools to resist the demand for places. The pressure to enroll other siblings or children of alumni/ae can be quite severe. Even if they do want to respond there may be practical difficulties such as there being no room on a campus for additional facilities or the school may be prohibited from expanding by a local government  regulation.

Such factors have led schools to consider the development of an additional campus. Sometimes the additional campus is a strategic move not so much in response to demand, but to secure it. For example, a rapidly growing development on the edge of a school’s catchment area may prompt it to set up a campus there rather than have the education need filled by a new school which, in later years, will become a significant competitor.

(b) Reinforcing the organizational structure
It is not uncommon for a school to be divided into campuses by level, for example, with primary Year levels on a different campus to the secondary Year levels. Sometimes Infant Year levels are separated. A number of schools have separate senior Year levels. Not all such organizational structures are reinforced by having separate campuses, but some are. Indeed, some schools with large campuses have secondary Year levels at one end and primary ones at the other. The separating distance might be only 300 or 400 metres, but there are a lot of features of separate campuses present.

(c) Special Educational Programmes
An increasing number of schools have a separate campus to support special programmes. Sometimes it can simply be a base for Outdoor Education. However, there has been a growth in recent decades of campuses devoted to a special programme for part or all of a Year group. Members of the Year group spend anything from a few weeks to a year at the special campus.  Sometimes the focus is on learning to live together, sometimes on Outdoor Education. Often it is so that this group of students can experience something different to what is, for them, normal. Thus students at a city school may spend time in the country (or overseas) focusing on ecology or another style of life. Students in an outer suburban school may spend time at a campus learning about the resources of the city. There are many variants of this type of special programme.

Multi-campus Organization & Challenges

A multi-campus operation presents a number of challenges, especially when at least 2 of the campuses are year-round operations with significant numbers of students. These challenges will relate to administration, resources and programme. Close coordination will be vital lest destructive jealousy arise. The Head will have the key responsibility for this.


Each campus will have a Campus Director (or Head of Campus) responsible to the Head of School for the overall operation of the campus. At some schools the Head doubles as Campus Director. This is not a good practice as the Head will be torn between whole school issues and campus issues, most likely doing justice to neither.  If the campus is a large one, i.e. with a year-round operation and a significant number of students, the Campus Director will automatically be a member of the senior management team. Other members of the senior management team are likely to be the Director of Curriculum, the Business Manager, the Development Director and quite probably the Director of Extra-Curricular Activities. The latter person will have a substantial whole school coordinating role.


Allocation of resources is an area with the potential for conflict. A perception that one campus is receiving more than its fair share can rankle. This can be a particular problem if two of the campuses run parallel. Campus Directors will need to be involved closely in creating the school’s annual budget. There will be occasions  when one campus will receive more pro rata than another. Capital development is an example. It is important that the budgeting process is sufficiently transparent for the reasons for particular resource allocation to be clearly understood.


The programme and its delivery need special attention. With parallel campuses parents need to be assured that a child in, say, Year 8 on one campus will not be disadvantaged by comparison with one on another. The Director of curriculum will need to ensure parity of standards.


In our experience, apart from the practical matters referred to in this article the other thing that is essential to the harmonious operation of a multi-campus school is that the school philosophy is clearly thought out and articulated. Furthermore, it is a philosophy which must be lived on each campus.

The situation is that two (or more) significant groups of staff need to work together consistently, but with only limited opportunities to meet. A shared philosophy which underlies all that is done will achieve this in a way that policies and directives can’t hope to do on their own.

Specific Guidelines

UNAPSI recognizes that multi campus arrangements may make sense for administrative, governance, and/or financial reasons. However, UNAPSI reserves the right to determine how it will view these new entities for purposes of accreditation.

UNAPSI proposes the following guidelines:

Pending further review, UNAPSI will regard each campus location as a separate school for purposes of accreditation (reports, visits, dues, etc.) regardless of nomenclature suggesting one school on more than one campus.

A school may demonstrate that the multiple campuses are in fact one school by documenting in writing on the school’s information how each of the provided Standards for Accreditation is met by the multi-campus entity as though it were a single school.

Unless and until a school demonstrates to the satisfaction of UNAPSI that a branch campus is part of the accredited school, as though the two campuses were a single school, UNAPSI will consider the branch campus as a separate school and does not authorize the awarding of reports, transcripts or certificates with the name of the accredited school to students at that branch campus. The award of such a transcript or certificates suggests the endorsement of the accrediting agency and may be discouraged.
Major Advantages or Benefits for Multi-Campus Programs
The major advantages and benefits cited by schools for their multi-campus programs were that it: allowed expansion of the class size, facilitated interprofessional activities, improved cultural diversity, enhanced student opportunities and experiences (including                  and enhanced utilization and number of training sites.
Major Challenges or Issues with Multi-Campus Programs
The major problems or issues cited by schools for their multi-campus programs were: problems with effective distance education technology, difficulties in communicating effectively between campuses, difficulties in providing equivalent services or experiences to all campuses, division or feelings of inequality among students or faculty members; and difficulties in acclimating students when moving them from one campus to another. There were many other issues reported which referred to school operations, socialization, harmonization of policies, faculty workload, communication, transportation, faculty and staff recruitment, accreditation, differences in student outcomes, expense, and a variety of program- and site-specific issues.
Although many schools and institutions have similar methods of communication and curriculum transmission, there are numerous differences in overall program delivery, indicating a need for education, guidelines, policies and information dissemination on the topic. The prevalence of multi-campus programs is likely to expand over the next several years, as schools and institutions strive to make better use of resources, expand class sizes, and better serve their region.

Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions
P.O.Box 29324 Kampala, Uganda, Email: ,

Why Parents Choose Private Schools in Uganda

Why Parents Choose Private Schools in Uganda


Assumptions have often been made about what parents are looking for in the school they select for their children but there has been little evidence to support these assumptions. Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions (UNAPSI) looked into the reasons behind the drift away from public schools in Uganda and asked what parents really think of our schools. To remain competitive in today’s complex school marketplace, it is essential for private schools to identify their core audiences, understand why their audiences chose their school, and become knowledgeable about what their audiences value about their school. We have partnered with some schools across the country, seeking answers to these very questions.

The Program was designed to address three major questions:

1. What are the family background factors that influence selection of a private or public school?
2. What are the economic factors that influence selection of a private or public school?
3. What are the perceptions of schools that parents have that may shape their selection of private or public schools?

A Critical Observation
While private schools and institutions may be different genres of education, these two groups of educational institutions share many similarities, from pricing and financial aid models to curriculum development. We believe that strong research can strengthen an organization in making sound strategic decisions and that it needs to be an essential core function of a private school.

What is important to Families when Choosing a Private School

Families consider many factors when selecting a school for their child/children. Parents where asked which factors were most important in selecting a school and the following attributes were considered by parents:

  • Academic Reputation
  • Access to Faculty
  • Athletic programs
  • Attractiveness of campus
  • Cleanliness of the School Facilities
  • Distance from my home
  • Opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities
  • Overall cost to your Family
  • Personal attention given to students
  • Quality of academic facilities (Library, labs, classrooms)
  • Quality of extracurricular facilities on campus
  • Safety of the school environment
  • Small class size
  • The area / setting surrounding the school campus
  • Utilization of technology
  • Value for the cost

Relationship of the Attributes

Before we examine which attributes are the most important, we looked at the correlations of these questions. Questions correlated with each other indicate parents answered them similarly and, as a result, several common themes emerged.

·         Cost – Value for the cost, overall cost to your family
·         Extracurricular Activities – Quality of extracurricular facilities on campus, athletic programs, opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities
·         Physical Environment – Attractiveness of campus, quality of academic facilities (library, labs, classrooms), the area/setting surrounding the school campus, cleanliness of the school facilities, safety of the school environment, utilization of technology
·         Attention, Focus on Student – Personal attention given to students, small class size, access to faculty

Parents indicated personal attention given to students was the most important school attribute when choosing a school. Note that small class size and access to faculty questions that were highly correlated are also very important. Parents highly value that their child will be attended to and cared for and loved in ways that are basically an extension of the family unit. Parents often write in responses to this question and responses such as “nurturing” and “friendly” are common. A good bet for any marketing message is to find ways to communicate to parents that they will attend to and care for the child / student.

Academic reputation is the second most important attribute to parents. Parents who pay for the private school experience have certain expectations of the school. This attribute is likely measured by parents in terms of college placement or preparatory placement at the next level.

Safety of the school environment is an attribute that is also very important to parents. Parents want their child to be safe and if faced with alternative situations that they thought were less safe, this attribute resulted in being very important to parents.

Value for the cost and quality of academic facilities are the rest of the attributes that were very important to parents. The other nine attributes were moderately important.

Which Information Sources Are Most Influential When Choosing a Private School

Parents are influenced by a variety of information sources, from word of mouth to the website. It is important to know what sources are most effective in influencing the school choice decision. We asked parents to indicate the importance of the following information sources in making a decision to enroll their child a given private school.

·         Campus tour
·         Contact with alumni of the school
·         Contact with parents whose children attend the school
·         Contact with students who attend the school
·         On-campus meetings with school staff
·         Open house
·         Print advertising
·         Referral from a previous teacher/educator
·         Referral from a professional colleague
·         Referral from a realtor
·         Referral from civic organization
·         School-developed print publications
·         School Web site
·         Written follow-up communication from school

Relationship of the Information Sources

We looked at the correlations of these information sources to gain insight into how parents rated them. The following were key findings;

  • School Communications – Campus tours, school developed print publications, school web site, written follow up communication from the school, open house, on campus meeting with school staff
  • Attendees & Former School Attendees – Contact with parents whose children attend the school, contact with students who attend the school, contact with alumni
  • Referrals – Referral from a realtor, referral from a professional colleague, referral from civic organization, referral from a previous teacher/ educator.

Retention Intentions
Retention is an important issue facing any private school. We all know that it is more cost effective to keep current students attending the school than to replace a student who leaves the school. We asked parents to share with us whether it was their intent – at the initial point of enrollment – to keep their child enrolled at the private school of choice through the final grade the school offers. Our results indicate that most parents intend for their child to remain at the school through the final grade the school offers. Nearly 80% of parents considered more than one school, about one-fifth of parents only considered one school. Again, the market place is competitive. Understanding how to differentiate your school from the competition is crucial.

Repeat or Returning Customer

It is important to understand if your school is marketing to an audience who is already familiar with private schools and already leaning toward that choice for his or her child or if your audience is new to the private school market. Parents with different backgrounds may be influenced by different messages.

Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions
P.O.Box 29324 Kampala, Uganda, Email: ,