Did UPE block the way for traditional giants?
Posted Thursday, January 24 2013 at 09:16
Govt vs private schools. The concern follows realisation that majority of pupils who got division 1 and 2 were from private schools.
Nakasero, Kitante, Bat Valley, Shimoni and Buganda Road were some of the government primary schools that any parent wished to take their children to in the 80s and 90s.
However, with the introduction of Universal Primary Education in 1997, many government institutions were put on the programme, hoping to enable children from humble background access education.
Today, overwhelmed by the high pupil enrolment, the performance in the Primary Leaving Examinations has slowly declined, with many parents, who can afford education with the private sector, opting out.
At Nakasero Primary School, out of the 314 candidates last year, only 96 were in Division 1, 200 in Division 2, 10 in Division 3, four in Division 4 while Divisions U and X had three and one pupil respectively.
At Buganda Road, out of the 314 candidates, 202 got Division 2.
Mr David Ssengendo, the head teacher of Nakasero, said his school was not performing as expected because of poor facilitation and high numbers of learners.
For Mr Ssengendo, 10 years back, the school had a manageable population, which could permit a teacher to pay extra attention to each pupil. But this has changed over time, with increasing pupils but fewer teachers.
He adds that the level of parent involvement has also reduced.
“The school’s performance was good because it had different circumstances in the 90s. Given the facilitation in schools today, these are good grades,” Mr Ssengendo said.
He appealed to the government to increase the capitation grant to motivate teachers.
As the government celebrates high enrolment, efforts should be taken to ensure that the pupils who leave this level have the necessary skills.
For instance, of the 565, 663 candidates who registered last year, 463, 332 were from UPE schools. This shows 81.9 per cent of candidates under the programme. However, Uneb does not show how the candidates performed under the UPE.
Instead, they indicate that overall, only 10.9 per cent scored Division 1.
Critics like Mr James Tweheyo, the chairperson of the Uganda National Teachers Union, says the situation is worrying and that this in the long run will create divisions in the job market.
“UPE graduates can’t get a professional course and the good paying jobs will be for those who already have,” Mr Tweyeho said.
Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Uwezo country director, says learning in Uganda is still constrained.
“By P3 and P4, many pupils can’t read and write. Looking at the P7 results, where are those who didn’t pass? From which schools? And how can government ensure that the public gets value from its resources?” Mr Ssewakiryanga asked.