Nearly 10,000 pupils across the country will not sit for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) this year.
According to Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) officials, the pupils were not registered by their districts due to poor performance,
The affected pupils were subjected to pre-registration examinations and those who failed to get the required pass mark were denied registration for this year’s PLE.
Uneb officials now fear this measure will bring down the expected number of pupils who were expected to complete their Primary Seven education in November, thus creating the smallest margin of increment of registered pupils for PLE between subsequent years.
In 2015, a total of 621,401 candidates registered for PLE, with the number rising to 640,833 a year later, recording a difference of 19,432 candidates.
But this year, Uneb registered only 645,914 pupils for the November 2, representing an increment of only 5,081 (1 per cent) candidates from the previous year, making it the lowest percentage increment in the last five years.
A source within the examination body who didn’t want to speak on record put the number of affected pupils at 10,000, but Mr Dan Nokrach Odongo, Uneb Executive Secretary, couldn’t confirm the figure, although he admitted that the numbers could be higher given their previous experience.
“It is true the figures may be above 10,000 but I’m yet to confirm,” Mr Odongo said in an interview yesterday.
Mr Odongo cited the 10 districts as Serere, Namutumba, Bulambuli, Kyankwanzi, Iganga, Kaliro, Mayuge, Kween, Luuka, and Buyende, which have been performing poorly, in the last decade, but have now decided to subject their candidates to tests this year ahead of registration, which results they used against their pupils to deny them registration to sit the national examinations.
He said districts that included Serere and Mayuge confirmed to Uneb that they had a big decline of up to 32 per cent in registration because the district leaders had taken the decision for pre-registration exams as a basis for registering candidates for the PLE exams.
Addressing the district school inspectors on Thursday, Mr Odongo said: “The districts need to find out the underlying causes of poor performance instead of punishing the pupils.”
Mr James Tweheyo, the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) general Secretary, said the Education ministry’s automatic promotion policy has now started to haunt them.
“The districts have no power under any law to stop registering candidates for national examinations once they have been promoted to Primary Seven,” Mr Tweheyo said.
To Mr Tweheyo, the drop could also be attributed to schools, which used to register candidates twice and in some cases also include the pupils who don’t meet the required grade, simply in order for them to retain the Uneb centre number, but which has now proven difficult after Uneb introduced online registration.
Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, the Unatu chairperson, castigated Uneb for raising the matter late when the affected pupils can’t be helped.
“They are simply doing a postmortem. Next time they should raise the issues earlier so that it can be rectified in time,” Mr Tumuhimbise said.
The ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, faulted the districts and accused them of contravening the Universal Primary Education (UPE) policy.
“We are directing all district education officers, district inspectors of schools and Chief Administrative Officers to ensure that all children who are sitting for exams are to do so without any hindrances”, Mr Kakooza said.
He warned district officials against setting their own standards against the government’s policy on how promotions are done in UPE schools.
Mr Odongo said the PLE examinations will be distributed with oversight of armed police officers to avert cases of tampering with the materials which he blamed on those hired to distribute the papers.
“In the past, many distributors were found to have opened some of the papers before being delivered to the final destinations,” he told the inspectors,” he said.
“We have seen in some districts the distributor is given materials and somewhere they stop and they disappear with the content. Actually in some schools we have received some envelops opened and they hand it over to the scout and say this is how we got it,” Mr Odongo added.
CREDIT: MONITOR PUBLICATIONS