Hundreds of thousands of parents and their children across the country received the Primary Leaving Examinations results on Friday.
As is expected, the results were received with mixed reaction. We say congratulations to those that excelled and we comfort those that were unable to make it to the next level. Give it another try.
However, what caught our attention was the pronouncement by the Minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni, on pre-Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) tests, which Primary Seven pupils are subjected to in some schools before being allowed to register for the final national exams.
While releasing the 2019 PLE exams at Kampala Parents’ Primary School in Kampala, Ms Museveni said she had been reliably informed that some schools have continued to subject their pupils to pre-registration tests, which had led to dropout of many pupils.
“I want to send a clear message to schools to desist from administering pre-registration tests in the name of excluding those learners who are assumed not to be able to pass. There is no basis for this action and it is unfair and leads to wastage as many of these pupils drop out of school,” Ms Museveni said.
Also, what the minister did not mention is the practice of schools refusing to register learners they presume cannot score first grade and they send them to register from other schools against their will.
There is also a not-well pronounced practice of altering sitting arrangements to have would-be best performers share desks during studies and examinations. Some schools even go to the extent of segmenting streams according to academic performance. This is totally wrong.
The minister is absolutely right to ban the practice and the necessary authorities should help to implement the directive. Why do we say so?
First, many pupils lose self-esteem should they not sit their exams from their preferred schools. Secondly, the practice does not give chance to pupils to improve since they would have already been condemned as failures.
Like the minister said, teachers must instead concentrate on effective teaching throughout the primary cycle to ensure all the learners who reach Primary Seven are able to sit the final exams.
Teachers should not be allowed to ‘ease’ their work by segregating against learners because of their abilities or inabilities. They should task themselves to help the slow ones cope with the faster ones.