Uganda map


  • 73%
    Adult literacy rate*
  • 163 out of 188
    Human Development Index ranking*
  • 38%
    Percentage of people living on less than $1.25 per day**

Country context

Uganda has a population of over 35 million people. Recent population growth has put strain on public services including education and health provision.

There is a large disparity in wealth and opportunity in Uganda. Although the number of people living in poverty has halved over the last decade, the North and West Nile regions and the Eastern region remain under-developed. The North and West Nile regions are now beginning to stabilise after years of conflict and the rural East of the country remains extremely poor. In rural areas children often have to travel long distances to reach school. This has security implications for girls in particular and only 34% of girls in Uganda finish primary school.

Uganda embraced universal primary education in 1997 which resulted in a huge increase in the number of children in school (around 97% of children start primary school) leading to shortages of qualified teachers and resources. Class sizes are often very large with up to 90 children per teacher in some areas.

Uganda has several higher education institutions and this sector is growing, although only 35% of secondary school leavers find a place in higher education.

Why we work in Uganda

English is the international language of communication in Uganda and the medium of instruction in school from primary 4 onwards. Uganda has a strong educational tradition with Makerere University one of the foremost universities in Africa. Demand for books in English is strong and the national publishing industry is heavily focused on school textbook publishing.

Book Aid International works in partnership with library services and NGOs in Uganda to provide books to public, community and school libraries as well as higher education institutions, hospitals and prisons to facilitate reading for study and lifelong education as well as for pleasure. There is a real need in Ugandan institutions for the books we can supply – especially in the areas of higher education, medicine and school books.

Our work in Uganda

Supporting public libraries in Uganda

Through our partner National Library of Uganda (NLU), we support public libraries across Uganda. In 2015 we sent 20,252 books to NLU to support their network of libraries.

In addition to providing books for general collections in public libraries our Open Doors Children’s Corners programme is creating vibrant and welcoming spaces for children in African public libraries, providing brand new books from the UK and purchased locally, grants for library refurbishment and training for librarians in children’s services. We launched Open Doors programme in Uganda in 2014 and in addition to the five Children’s Corners already established we hope to set up another five over the next year. Through our Open Doors programme we hope to enable thousands of children in Uganda to discover the joy of reading.

Our innovative Digital Futures project is providing both books and preloaded e-readers through Children’s Corners in 10 libraries to give children their first experience of digital resources.

Supporting schools in Uganda

We provide books through our distribution partner Kyambogo University to a range of primary and secondary schools throughout the country.

We also work with Africa Educational Trust to establish school libraries in government schools in rural areas. So far this project has established new libraries in 100 schools and we have provided over 70,000 books towards the project.

Supporting higher education in Uganda

The higher education sector in Uganda is growing and there are several newer universities building their library collections, such as Lira University and Muni University (both established in 2012), as well as the more established universities such as Makerere. Through our partners we are able to supply up-to-date, relevant books for study which enable people to reach their potential and shape their own futures.

Supporting community libraries in Uganda

Through the Uganda Community Libraries Association (UgCLA) we provide books for start-up libraries in communities where there is no access to a public library. UgCLA has a network of over 100 libraries in rural and urban settings which are often managed and run by the community themselves. In 2015 we provided UgCLA with over 14,000 books ranging from children’s books to adult fiction and books on medicine and healthcare.

Books for better health in Uganda

We have supplied medical and healthcare books to Ugandan libraries for many years, both in public libraries and in educational and health institutions. In 2014 we delivered a project in Gulu Regional Referral Hospital to provide up-to-date medical and healthcare texts as well as training for hospital library staff. This project continues into 2016 and will provide health and medical professionals with vital access to up to date medical information.

*UN Human Development Report 2014

**World Bank

Our work in Uganda in numbers

The library is helping people to reach their full potential, it is empowering them to shape their own futures. The books and information we have here are changing lives. PETER'S STORY