Latest figures show that a total of 5,022 primary schools registered no candidate with first grade in the recently released Primary Leaving Examinations.
Government and the Education ministry have undoubtedly made efforts over the years to ensure that Uganda acquires the quality human capital that it needs to move forward. That said, it is clear that there are a number of things that are undermining these otherwise good efforts.
Government has, for instance, been trumpeting the rising enrolment figures since the Universal Primary Education programme started in 1997, but the retention rate and the quality of the UPE graduates has not received adequate attention. According to an analysis of the results released by Uneb on Friday, the 5,022 primary schools were a host to 190,050 pupils, which is 32 per cent of the total number of candidates in the country. These were part of the 582,085 candidates from 11,506 centres (schools) who registered with Uneb to do PLE in 2013.
Commenting on the general performance, Education and Sports minister Jessica Alupo attributed the good performance in urban schools to availability of facilities and less pupil and teacher absenteeism.
She said some schools are from hard-to-reach areas where teachers are reluctant to go even after being posted by the ministry.
According to the minister, in such schools, “pupils learn with no qualified teachers. The government is committed to enhance the teachers capacity to deliver quality teaching and learning by training teachers in early grade literacy and numeracy.”
As a way to solve the current Education sector challenges, the government will also have to take an honest look at the issue of teachers’ quality and welfare.
Recent statistics show that 8.9 million pupils have not completed primary education in the last seven years. There are numerous questions about the fate of these drop-outs. There are very high chances that most of them end up unemployed or underemployed. This does not ease the country’s high unemployment rate. These trends also threaten the country’s ambitious plans to emerge from peasant economy into a middle income economy by 2040.
Government will do well to reconsider the implementation of UPE. Turning a blind eye to the bare realities of its weaknesses will only make a bad situation worse.