At least six government primary schools in Lyantonde District risk losing national examination centres over diminishing enrolment in candidate classes, Daily Monitor has established.
Mr Merdard Byarugaba, the acting district education officer, said some of the schools likely to be affected include Kitazigolokwa Church of Uganda Primary School, Kalagala Muslim Primary School, Kabasegwa Primary School, Biwolobo Primary School and Buyanja Primary School, all located in Lyantonde Rural Sub-county.
Others are Kamusenene Primary School and Kasaana Primary School in Kinuuka and Mpumudde sub-counties respectively.
Kitazigolokwa Primary School, for example, has only 11 pupils in Primary Seven while Kasaana Muslim Primary School has 12 and of these, four are girls and are pregnant.
“Such schools are going to remain with only classes from Primary One to Primary Five and also their examination centres are going to be cancelled,” Mr Byarugaba said on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Education guidelines indicate that every primary school must have at least 15 pupils and above in every class and if the enrolment is less, the school is not allowed to operate.
To remain with national examination centres, Daily Monitor has learnt that some school administrators in the district register bright pupils in both Primary Five and Primary Six to sit national exams in order to make up the required numbers of candidates.
Mr Byarugaba partly blames this problem on some parents, who refuse to enrol pupils in government schools over alleged low academic standards but instead take them to private schools.
“In some areas, it is the parents who are causing the collapse of these schools. They take there children to private schools,” he said.
He said two schools including Kabwanswa Primary School and Binikira Primary School in Kasagama Sub-county and Kaliiro Sub-county respectively, have already had their Primary Six and Primary Seven classes closed and some of their teachers posted to other schools with better enrollments.
Mr David Matsiko, the head teacher of Binikira Primary School, said more schools will suffer low enrolment unless the education department at the district level revises its policy on frequent transfer of teachers.
“Sometimes, teachers are posted to schools and they spend only two terms. Such a person cannot concentrate and teach pupils well,” Mr Byarugaba said.
Another head teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed some school inspectors for failing to execute their work as they concentrate on their private schools.
Mr Fred Muhangi, the district chairperson, said the district was among 10 poor performers in national examinations between 2006 and 2009 and had started recruiting more teachers as one of the strategies to address the challenge.
Lyantonde has a staff ceiling of 420 primary teachers and the district has in the past one year been able to recruit and maintain 400 teachers, which is 95 per cent, making it above the national ceiling target of 86 per cent.