Secondary education has registered high enrolment growth rates since the mid-1990s, following the introduction of UPE, which saw large numbers of children join primary schools. The number of government-aided secondary schools grew by 20 per cent while the private ones increased by 15 per cent in the past 10 years.
According to the 2005 Annual School Census, there were 697,507 students enrolled in secondary schools in 2004. The figure was estimated to have risen to more than 700,000 in 2006. A key development in secondary education is the increased participation of girls. According to available statistics, girls constituted 45.5 per cent of students enrolled in secondary schools, while boys were 55.0 per cent. Some of the reasons for this was affirmative action, including providing proper sanitation for girls and creating conducive environment for them in schools. However, secondary education is still marked by low transition rates. In 2004, for example, only 50 per cent of the 400,000 pupils who completed primary school transited to post-secondary institutions.
Another major development in Uganda's secondary education is the plan by the government to abolish fees and make it free for all qualified students. The universal secondary education (USE) is expected to start in January 2007 and will first benefit those enrolling in Form One and then move gradually until Form Four. Universal secondary education will put Uganda among the few countries in Africa to offer a complete free basic education covering 12 years.