Photographer Ben Katzler Reflects on Uganda's Education System

Children playing
Children playing | © Ben Katzler

CLASS exhibition by Ben Katzler is a peek into a day of school life in Uganda. It’s a reminder that the privilege of receiving a decent education shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Loved by over 40s

The photo series was shot in one day, capturing the students’ moods, routines, and interactions with one another. Having lived in the UK his whole life, where there are constant complaints about the government-funded education, Katzler found it remarkable to see eager and content children in a learning environment that may not even provide the most basic requirements like books and pencils. The children demonstrated a collective yearning and determination to learn, as if they already knew what getting an education would do for their lives, something Katzler didn’t see in the UK.

Outside classroom interaction

Most of Uganda’s students go through two levels of education: primary and secondary schools. Very few make it to university and other tertiary institutions due to financial constraints. In a bid to increase the literacy level, the government launched Universal Primary Education (UPE). Ten years later, Universal Secondary Education (USE) was rolled out across Uganda, so that more Ugandans who previously couldn’t afford to send their children to school could do so for free.

But at what cost? There is a general resentment towards UPE and USE because Uganda’s education system, which was once one of Africa’s giants, has been brought to its knees. The student-teacher ratio is always mind boggling, as classes register large numbers of students, fewer teachers and few to no books, desks, or chairs. Teachers go months or years without pay. It’s argued that students sit in class for years learning next to nothing. Meanwhile, the middle-income class Ugandans refuse to subscribe to this state system, as they enrol their children in private schools for the chance of a decent education.

A girl writes on a board

On what inspired the photography behind the exhibition, Katzler told Culture Trip, ‘I had travelled to Uganda for two weeks to shoot a fund-raising short film for Redearth in late 2015. We visited a lot of schools, spoke to a number of children and teachers, and on the day we were at Bigando School in Masindi, northwestern Uganda, I had some time on my hands to shoot stills and, once I started, I couldn’t stop. The light, the sparse backdrops of the classrooms, the basics of their recreation time, and the camaraderie among the kids, their faces – all of it was just captivating!’

One-third of the profits from the CLASS exhibition will go to Redearth Education, which was founded 15 years ago by Ben Katzler’s dad, Ronnie Katzler. Their mission is to raise the standard of education in rural Uganda by focusing on the training of teachers and equipping them with the tools and techniques that we take very much for granted in the developed world.

A teacher grades his students’ books

CLASS is Katzler’s first exhibition in London; it’s special to him because the work Redearth does is showing phenomenal results and needs to continue. Dropout rates in the schools where they’ve implemented the programme (which now totals to 132) have reduced from around 80% to almost nothing and literacy levels have risen at practically the exact same rate in reverse. But without corporate sponsorship, this is all being done by small donations from individuals.

CLASS exhibition will run from April 23 to April 28, 2018 at the A&D Gallery.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.