Ugandan pupils perform comparatively worse at lower levels of education, but demonstrate faster ‘catch-up’ at higher levels compared to their counterparts in the region, the latest Uwezo report has revealed.
This is the third report by the non-governmental East African region education quality tracking project, Uwezo. The report shows that in a survey carried out last year on 101,652 children in the region, only 38 per cent of Ugandan Children could pass English and Mathematics tests combined.
According to the survey, Kenyan children aged 10-16 lead the pack with a 70 per cent pass rate followed by Tanzania at 45 per cent while trails the pack at only 38 per cent.
The proportion of Ugandan children that pass both the literacy and numeracy test are lower than in Kenya and Tanzania from P1 to P5. However, from P6 onwards, Ugandan pupils slightly outperform Tanzanian pupils.
The report, however, attributes this variance to the language of instruction used by the different countries and may therefore give new impetus to promoters of native languages as the language of instruction in lower primary.
Kenya and Tanzania predominantly use Kiswahili as a language of instruction and general communication.
“A potential explanation for this relative ‘catch-up’ of Ugandan pupils is wider use of English as the language of instruction in upper primary school which boosts the pass rates on the English literacy test,” the report reads in part.
Unlike last year’s report which painted a gloomy picture, the new report indicates a general improvement in performance.
Last year’s report indicated that nine out of 10 pupils in P7 could not pass tests meant for P3, however, the 2012 report notes that only two in 10 now fail the tests.
Like in the two previous reports, this year’s report notes that though there is higher enrolment at primary level especially due to the provision of free education, the worry about whether they are actually learning is still troubling.
“While access to education has expanded, the quality of education has stagnated and may in fact have deteriorated further,” the reports notes.
Among other things, the report also highlights that there are still disparities in the levels of performance by districts. In Uganda, the central region especially in Wakiso and Kampala are at the forefront while the northern region districts of Kaabong and Kotido are the worst performing.
Ms Eunice Musiime, the programmes coordinator at the National NGO Forum, observed that policies should be studied first before they are implemented in different parts of the country.
“Policy makers and school administrators alike would do better to examine the evidence for the effectiveness of different interventions before they are implemented so as to develop a more informed sense of what works best and where,” she said.
The tests were for Primary Two and administered to 348,384 children from 151,316 households in 2010/2011.