Monday February 3 2014

PLE: A ticking time bomb

The Primary Leaving Examinations’ results for the year 2013 were released on Friday last week. A lot has been said since then with the lucky pupils celebrating good grades in newspaper and radio profiles. It is easy to gloss over this issue since every year; the line ministry makes the same sounds over PLE.

It is alright for those who passed well to celebrate but the number of those who failed should worry everyone. The agencies charged with inspecting the levels of academic excellence need to be put on the spot if only to force positive change.

The eastern region was noted to have got the most failures but the problem is wider than just eastern Uganda. The statistics indicate that as many as 9,500 schools did not get any Division One and only about 580 schools had a 50 per cent first grade pass rate.

With 500,904 pupils spread across the country, the need is clear to find solutions that will last. Private schools, which would have been used as a buffer against the immense pressure on public schools, do not seem to be doing any better in the final analysis.

Mathematics, which should be a foundation subject for a country that is actively pursuing a science future, was the worst done subject with only 2.8 per cent out of the 500,904 pupils getting a Distinction Two.
The call for a rethinking of the universal education system has been made many times before. The benefits of the programme cannot be ignored as a country that gives its children an education is considered to be on the path to greatness. It is the dismal performance that comes out of the UPE schools that should give us pause.

The usual response, which is beginning to sound like a broken record, was repeated by the minister during the release of the results on Friday. Ms Jessica Alupo said calls for scrapping UPE are premature as the government has not reviewed it with a view to changing or scrapping it. We think the government should have started on this a long time ago.