Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) executive secretary Dan Odongo yesterday reported a decline in performance in last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).
Mr Odongo said 90.4 per cent of the candidates passed, compared to 91.4 per cent, who passed in the previous year.
The board registered 695,804 pupils for the 2019 PLE against 671,923 who sat in the previous year.
Of these, 473,893 (68.2 per cent) were from Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools.
Social Studies was the best done subject at distinction level with 14 per cent followed by English Language at 7.6 per cent.
Mathematics was ranked third as Science trailed.
“In both English Language and Mathematics, performance was poor in questions where candidates were required to apply knowledge in problem-solving situations or were required to express themselves freely. The candidates were more comfortable with questions that were direct and based on recall. This situation has persisted,” Mr Odondg said at the release of the results at Kampala Parents School yesterday.
Absences remained at 1.8 per cent, with 12,502 candidates missing the papers even when they had registered.
Although more girls appeared for the examinations, boys performed better than them.
But Mr Odongo appreciated that the candidates’ work was more organised this time even though their answers were “wrong.”
Education minister Janet Museveni expressed concern that teachers and schools continue to get involved in examination malpractice, which she said is a sign of serious inadequate teaching.
“I note with great concern that an increasing number of teachers are getting involved in circulation of fake examination papers to make money. Many schools fell victim to this and taught their candidates through the night, only for the poor learners to find that the examination papers had very different content,” Ms Museveni said.
A total of 61 people have so far been arrested for alleged involvement in examination malpractice and await the law to take its course.
Ms Museveni attributed the decline in performance to failure by candidates to answer questions that require practical experience.
“Teachers must refocus their teaching to enable learners apply knowledge to environment and other real-life situations,” she said.
Prof Mary Okwakol, the Uneb chairperson, said some Uneb scouts were bribed to assist candidates answer questions but declined the temptation. “In one examination centre in Mpigi District, a scout reported back Shs500,000 which had been given to her as a bribe to allow the teachers of the school write answers for the candidates,” Prof Okwakol said.
She reported that they assigned random numbers to schools during the examination to make it difficult for markers to identify which schools they were marking.
“Some schools had expressed fear that this would not be manageable at primary. Although a few challenges were experienced in some districts, the system has been able to align the results to their rightful candidates,” Prof Okwakol said.
Without giving numbers, Prof Okwakol said a significant number of candidates continued to score zero in the examinations.
The exams board said they have withheld results for 1,512 candidates until they conclude their investigations into their conduct during the examinations.
The government officials could not explain why 66,152 pupils were ungraded after spending seven years in school.
However, they were encouraged to repeat the class to improve their grades.