KAMPALA. The stringent guidelines the Ministry of Education set last year for admission to Primary Teachers Colleges (PTCs) has left many students stranded as they failed to meet the standards.
The new government guidelines require that a candidate must have scored a minimum of six passes in Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) which include a credit in English language and Mathematics, two passes of which one is in Biology or Chemistry and another in Physics or Agriculture plus passes in other subjects obtained at the same sitting.
The Principal of Shimoni Primary Teachers College, Ms Beatrice Byakutaga, yesterday said as long as students have a credit in the key subjects such as English and Mathematics, they will be admitted to any of the colleges.
“There was an public outcry regarding the quality of teachers. We are now strict on entry. You must have credits and passes. I have dropped some students with Aggregate 20 because they don’t have credits in English language and Mathematics. These are important subjects and candidates must have passed them,” Ms Byakutaga said. Releasing results for the 2017 UCE examinations last week, Mr Dan Odongo, the executive secretary of Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb), said while there was an increase in the number of candidates who scored passes, English language registered a drop at both distinction and credit levels.
In the science subjects which are now key in admitting a student to PTCs, Mr Odongo said more than 40 per cent of the candidates did not exhibit minimum competencies to be graded. This means the 45 colleges in the country will struggle to realise the required numbers for admissions to their institutions.
Mr Zachary Alio from Arua Primary Teachers College said: “We have the guidelines. Less than that, we don’t take them. However, there are few students who applied to join our institution who meet those standards.”
In the past, government only required candidates with a minimum pass in any of the subjects to join a primary teachers college.
In 2016, Uneb released a report which showed that 80 per cent of teachers who had completed primary teaching education in the previous year could not read or count.
The teachers together with their tutors had been subjected to Primary Six tests. However, the survey revealed that only 18.8 per cent of the primary teachers’ tutors could interpret graphs compared to 5.7 per cent of their final year students subjected to the same tasks.
This meant that 81.2 per cent of the tutors could not interpret the graphs and so were 94.3 per cent of their students. The teachers who were already in the field couldn’t do any better after they scored 8 per cent in interpreting the same graphs.
Uneb, under its National Assessment of Progress in Education (NAPE) programme administered literacy and numeracy questions to 24,044 Primary Three pupils, 22,732 Primary Six pupils, 4,190 in-service primary teachers, 8,155 pre-service and 115 tutors.
“Only 21.8 per cent and 38.8 per cent of Primary Teachers Colleges Year Two students were rated proficient in numeracy and literacy in English language respectively. These low results should be cause for worry because these students are now in the field teaching our children,” Mr Odongo said in 2016 at the release of results for the 2015 NAPE survey.
Following findings of these surveys, Ms Byakutaga, the chairperson of Principals Association, said the Education ministry last year moved to improve the quality of candidates who join primary teachers colleges hoping that they will be more knowledgeable and impart right skills into the learners.
By Patience Ahimbisibwe,
Damali Mukhaye, Franklin Draku,
Rachel Mabala & Isaac Wafula