Hundreds of candidates are set to miss the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) that are scheduled for tomorrow and Tuesday, Sunday Monitor has established through a quick survey in some districts across the Central region.
Candidates failing to sit for the final examinations has been a recurring problem. Last year, for instance, 13,330 candidates who had registered to sit for PLE across the country did not sit. There are tale-tale signs that many will miss out again this year.
According to Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) records, a total of 695,793 candidates were registered for this year’s PLE exams, which will be conducted at 13,475 centres.
In Masaka District, for example, Noeline Nassaka,12, from Tekeera Primary School in Buwunga Sub-county, will miss the exams, according to Mr Gerald Nsambu , the district inspector of schools.
“The information I received indicates that her mother is seriously ill and she is the only one who can attend to her, so she will not be able to sit for her exams,” Mr Nsambu said on Friday.
Nassaka is one of 373 pupils in various districts in the region who registered for this year’s PLE exams, but are expected to miss for various reasons.
Mr Nsambu said in Masaka District alone, where 4,670 pupils registered for PLE, some 337 are likely to miss the exams. “We have tried to talk to school heads to find out why such a big number of pupils missed sitting mock exams and some of the issues that were raised include pupils getting pregnant, some being married off and others being simply absent,” he said.
He added that the most affected schools include those in rural areas where inspection and monitoring are inefficient.
Some of the affected sub-counties include Buwunga, Bukakkata and Kyanamukaka among others.
In other districts, candidates will miss sitting the exams due to reasons such as child marriages, pregnancies and sickness.
For instance, in Kalungu District, the authorities fear that about 34 out of 5,401 registered candidates could miss exams after failing to attend second term and writing their mock exams.
Mr Deo Kayinga, the district inspector of schools, says almost all these pupils who missed mock exams are under government’s free education scheme, the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme.
“It is a common problem in some remote sub-counties like Lwabenge that pupils, especially girls, drop out when they reach Primary Seven. We still have an uphill task to convince parents to allow pupils to first finish school no matter the conditions they are facing,” Mr Kayinga said.
In the island district of Kalangala, the district inspector of schools, Mr Ronald Mutebi, said due to the ongoing operations against illegal fishing on Lake Victoria, which have seen some landing sites burnt and people displaced, some pupils are likely to miss their final papers as their whereabouts are yet to be established.
Kalangala has a total of 443 registered candidates who will sit from 13 Uneb centres. Out of the 443 candidates, 392 are in government-aided schools, while 51 are attending private schools.
Mr Mutebi says in distant islands like Miyana, Butulume, Lujjabwa and Nkose, the majority of the schools do not have minimum requirements to qualify for a Uneb centre.
“We are aware majority of our candidates in those isolated islands travel long distances on water to reach the few existing examination centres, but we are making arrangements to ensure they don’t miss any paper ,” Mr Mutebi said.
Kyotera District chairperson Patrick Kintu Kisekkulo said being a border district, more boys than girls drop out of school because they engage in petty trade at Mutukula Border Post.
“Most of the pupils who drop out of school in this district have parents poor who cannot provide them with essential needs, however much the government provides free education. Some even spend a whole term without exercise books. Those are the ones who end up dropping out of school,” he said.
In Mubende, the district education officer, Mr Benson Kayiwa, could not speak about the exams but the district vice chairperson, Mr Sheif Magezi Nsereko, says 10 candidates out of the 4,685 registered missed mock papers.
He said many pupils in the district are exposed to sex very early, placing Mubende among the districts with the highest number of teenage mothers.
In Luweero, Ms Florence Bbosa, the district education officer, said a total of 12,955 candidates are set to sit their exams at 138 centres.
This year’s number of candidates has slightly shot up by 807 candidates compared to 12,148 in 2018.
Mr Jimmy Kyagulanyi , the Kiboga District education officer, says they still hope all the registered 3,250 candidates will show up for exams.
In Buvuma District , Mr Hussein Bugembe, the district education officer, said the number of candidates has reduced to 634 compared to 637 who sat last year.
“Our district has only 10 examination centres and from today [Thursday], we have started the preparations, we have already briefed the invigilators, scouts and those that are going to transport the exams to different islands,” Mr Hussein said.
Buvuma District, which comprises 52 islands, eight sub- counties and one town council, has 20 public primary schools.
Mr Moses Wanjala, the head teacher of Bukali Primary School, the biggest examination centre in Buvuma District, said they registered 115 candidates.
“Since we lack enough classrooms, our candidates will use the nearby church that we have always used during PLE exams,” he said.
Compiled by Dan Wandera, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Richard Kyanjo, Sylvester Ssemugenyi, Josephine Nnabbaale
Jack and Jill Nursery and Primary School administration in Kabale Municipality is on spot for stealthily swapping Primary Seven candidates.
Parents claim that 20 out of 35 candidates were swapped to sit for Primary Leaving Examinations at Rwere Primary School under Universal Primary Education (PLE) programme in Bubaare Sub-county, Rubanda District. They also accuse the school administration of not consulting them on the matter. Ms Agatha Nankunda, a parent, on Friday said she was shocked when the head teacher, Ms Scholastic Kyomukama, told her that her son could not be allowed to register at Jack and Jill because his performance was wanting.
The director of the school, the Rev Fr Christopher Busingye, admits that the candidates were swapped but with consent of their parents.
By Emmanuel Arineitwe