Experts challenge sudden improvement in PLE performance

Teachers, parents and pupils of Gombe Junior School in Wakiso District celebrate after all their PLE candidates passed in First Grade. Their best candidate was Stephanie Adyero Ocaya who scored Agg 4.Photo/ David Lubowa

What you need to know:

  • There was a general improvement in the performance of all districts across the country in the just released PLE results according to the Uganda Examination Board (Uneb).

Education experts have challenged the sudden improvement in the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) citing “probable anxiety” from officials to have the candidates get better marks. 
There was a general improvement in the performance of all districts across the country in the just released PLE results according to the Uganda Examination Board (Uneb). 
Experts contend that circumstances that surrounded the end of term and the preparations for the examinations would have never been possible for an improvement in the results from the previous years. 

Mr Fagil Mande, a former Uneb chairperson, yesterday said there was nothing to believe about the figures. 
“I am wondering, were these figures manufactured because if the teachers did not have time to prepare and teach the full syllabus to the pupils, there were automatic promotions and all those difficulties, how can you convince me that there was an improvement?” Mr Mande said in a telephone interview. 

When Covid-19 broke out in 2020, the ministry of Education suspended schools for more than two years. Upon resumption, because a lot of time had been lost, the students were made to join the next classes automatically and the PLE time table was brought forward ahead of time. 
During the release of examination results last week, neither the ministry of Education nor Uneb explained what magic bullet was applied to have the good results. 
A senior examiner who did not want to be named because they are not authorised to speak to the media, said there was an agreement to lower the grading to make sure that the performance is not totally bad. 

“There was automatic promotion for many children and the syllabus was not properly covered. If we had used the standard grading then it would have been disastrous, we had to reduce it and be lenient on pupils,” the source said. 
Efforts to get a comment from the Uneb spokesperson, Ms Jennifer Kalule, and Dr Denis Mugimba, the Education ministry spokesperson, were futile as they did not answer our repeated calls and respond to our messages by press time.  

Our analysis shows that whereas the districts that traditionally topped PLE performance such as Wakiso, Kampala and Mukono improved, the western districts also performed well with schools scoring better grades compared to last year. 
The Uneb figures show that the best seven districts were Bushenyi with 56 percent passing, Kisoro with 51 percent, Ntungamo with 49 percent, Kabale 47 percent, Rukungiri 44 percent and Mbarara 42 percent, as compared to last year which was led by Mbarara, Kampala, Wakiso, Kira Municipality and Kasese. 
According to Uneb, “A candidate is deemed to have passed if he/she obtains Divisional grades of one, two, three and four. Such candidates will qualify to register for any post primary examination conducted by Uneb..”

Uneb officials yesterday told Daily Monitor that there was a general performance improvement of students by 2022, more candidates obtained first division and second compared to 2020. 
The officials also said that the overall pass levels are comparable between the two years with 714,702 candidates passing the PLE compared to 659,910 the previous year.