Skip to main content

Kampala education and international schools guide

Kampala is one of the fastest developing cities in Africa and to cater to for the demand, several new international schools have opened since the beginning of this century.

Due to the vast quantities of oil and gas hidden below the staggeringly beautiful landscape of Uganda, Kampala has left the war-torn city of the 1980’s well behind and is now a happy place to be an expat, offering some of the most spectacular wild life in Africa, as well as the modern essentials of international schools and shopping malls.

It may have changed enormously over the last 30 years but this country is still attached to the memories of ‘Empire’ as it remained a British protectorate until 1962. Even now, you drive on the left-hand side, learn English in school and, probably, drink tea. However, this is Africa and you also have to navigate the obstacles of endless potholes and manhole covers on the roads (not long ago, the daughter of a famous BBC journalist was swallowed up by one and had to be rescued with a rope) and be content to live largely on tropical fruit.

When you move abroad, as a family (whatever your point of departure), the priorities have to be around where to live and how to make sure that your children get the best education on offer. In Kampala, the housing options for expat families (given that the breadwinner is pulling down a decent salary) tend to be found in two areas.

The most upmarket, in social and economic terms, is Muyenga (known as Tank Hill locally), which is often the choice of diplomats and top of the tree businessmen. The most obvious alternative is Kololo, with its somewhat flash villas and a golf club. An important extra consideration is the distance from Kabira Country Club, which is the hub of expatriate social life. Other possibilities are Mbuya with its stunning views and Nagaru which, again, has the advantage of being within easy reach of the Country Club.

International schools

In almost all cases, international schools mean getting in the car, the exception being Acacia International School which is just around the corner if you live in Muyenga. However, most of the schools are less than 30 minutes away from the areas that expats usually tend to choose, unless, of course, the truly appalling traffic has one of its no-go days. The furthest away (wherever you live) is probably the International School of Uganda (ISU) on the road to Entebbe, which can take anything from half to three quarters of an hour to reach.

Except for International Stream of the Aga Khan High School, GEMS Cambridge International and Rainbow International School (the two latter are Accredited Members of the Council of British International Schools, COBIS) all the schools that we have considered are independently accredited by either the Council of International Schools (CIS) (Ambrosoli, Galaxy International School, Kampala International School) or the independent American agency the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA) (Heritage International School). One school (International School of Uganda) is accredited by both.

As a hangover from its colonial past, it is unsurprising that nearly half of the international schools teach the A Level syllabus after IGCSEs and that the percentage of schools offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma is relatively low compared to some global cities. Of the all-through schools only one, International School of Uganda, does not offer IGCSEs, preferring to teach the complete (barring the Careers option) International Baccalaureate Programme.

Ambrosoli International School, named after a charismatic Italian priest (Uganda’s population is nearly 40 per cent Catholic) teaches the National Curriculum for England up to the age of 11 and the remaining all-through schools also follow an adapted British curriculum leading up to IGCSEs. The odd man out is Acacia International School which teaches an American curriculum up to age 14.

For more information on these schools, please go to each school’s individual entry on the GSGI database or The GSGI article Best schools in Kampala considered by expats.

State Schools

As an expat, it is most unlikely that you would consider sending your children to a state school in Uganda as the structure, the quality of teaching and the teacher: student ratio, as well as the cultural differences, would make it difficult for an expat child to either thrive or transfer to schools in other countries. Girls are still discriminated against and only around half the students are literate at the end of primary school. Although UNICEF is targeting the worst performing districts with the aim of improving literacy to 75 per cent by the end of grade 6, this is still not an environment that comes anywhere near the exacting standards of those used to international-style education.

And finally…

The choice used to be pretty limited but there are now several schools that live up to international expectations and are recognised by independent international bodies. It used to be the norm to send your children to boarding school back home but now you have the option of keeping your family together by looking at the educational opportunities available in Uganda.

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Special educational needs introduction

    Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need. Our SEN consultancy team advises on both special schools, and the mainstream schools with good SEN support, from reception through to the specialist colleges for 19+. Special Educational Needs Index

  • The Good Schools Guide International

    Coronavirus As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, The Good Schools Guide International offers the following guidance:  Determine the global situation and that of individual countries on government mandated school closures by accessing the UNESCO information on this link:   For updates on the medical situation, go to  the World Health Organisation website at  If you wish to contact one of our GSGI listed schools to discover their current status or any plans for alternate learning strategies, please go to our database to find email and phone numbers for each school If your company makes you brexit, The GSGI should be your first stop.…

  • Uni in the USA... and beyond

    The British guide to great universities from Harvard to Hong Kong. We tell you how to choose, how to apply, how to pay.

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2019 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value.

  • Music, drama and dance at Performing Arts schools

    At specialist music, dance or performing arts schools, the arts aren't optional extras. They’re intrinsic to the school curriculum. Students are expected to fit in high level training and hours of practice alongside a full academic provision. It's a lot to ask any child to take on, but for those with exceptional performing ability this kind of education can be transformative.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.