LIST: Top schools relax cut-off for senior one

Some of the head teachers during the Senior One selection exercise at the UMA Show grounds on February 2, 2023. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA.

What you need to know:

  • Several schools have increased the cut-off points.

A mixed picture emerged yesterday as the selection exercise for senior one students got underway at the UMA show grounds in Lugogo, Kampala.
The 714,702 pupils that are eligible to join post-primary schools are at the centre of the selection exercise. The number is 54,792 more than what secondary schools considered last year. While this has forced some schools to hike their cut-off grades, others have chosen to increase the number of students they are taking in. 

“Our cut-off points depend on the performance and this year’s performance was really good,” Mr Charles Kuweeka, the head teacher of Ibanda-based Kibubura Girls, said yesterday during the selection process, adding that the school had hiked its cut-off to Aggregate 10 from 12 last year.

Kibubura Girls was hardly an exception. Kibuli Secondary School hiked its cut-off from Aggregate 8 to 7 for girls and Aggregate 7 to 6 for boys. Lira-based Dr Obote College Boroboro also increased the bar to Aggregate 9 from 10. Bubangizi Secondary School, Mitooma District increased from 14 to 10 for girls and 12 to 9 for boys.
St Andrea Kahwa’s College perhaps best captures the mixed picture that emerged from the selection exercise’s opening day. While the Hoima-based school raised its cut-off from aggregate 8 to 7 for girls, it maintained the cut-off for boys at aggregate 7. Others like Kotido Secondary School even reduced the bar.

Cut-off points
“The situation is not good in Kotido. The Covid-19 [pandemic] disrupted the economy and student’s academics as well,” Mr Robert Wuubo, the headteacher of Kotido Secondary School, revealed after it came to light that his school had reduced the cut-off for male pupils from aggregate 15 to 16.
Academic powerhouses such as Mt St Mary’s College Namagunga (Aggregate 5, King’s College Budo (Aggregate 6 for girls) and Namilyango College (Aggregate 7) didn’t set steep targets. 
Mengo Secondary School and Gombe Secondary School set their cut-off at Aggregate 6 for boys and 7 for girls. Kawempe Muslim School set the bar at Aggregate 7 for both boys and girls. Mbarara High School set its cut-off at Aggregate 7, with Jinja College settling for Aggregate 8.

Iganga Secondary School, that admits girls and visually impaired boys, maintained its cut-off at Aggregate 8 for girls. Mr Moses Semwanga, the school’s deputy headteacher, told us that they set no cut-off for the visually impaired pupils.
“We look at the kind of impairment. We mainly teach students who are visually impaired. We look at what the child can do, like if he or she uses braille language or if they can use large print then we inform the child whether they can be admitted or not,” he said.

 Mr Bernard Okumu, the head teacher of Padibe Girls Comprehensive Secondary School, Lamwo District, said they maintained their cut-off  at aggregate 27 to cater to pupils who are disadvantaged.
“The school is located in a rural area. We want to provide affordable and accessible education to all so that we can reduce the number of school dropouts in the district,” Mr Okumu said.

Teachers warned
Schools totalling 1,421 turned up for day one of the selection process yesterday. An official from the Education ministry told this newspaper that 80 percent of the schools received their cut-off mark. A delay in the process was attributed to machine breakdown at the Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb). Officials are confident that the loose ends will be tied up today.
Meanwhile Ms Ketty Lamaro—the Education ministry permanent secretary—has warned schools against promoting stereotypes among gender in subject combination.

She said: “Science and technology are the key ingredients driving the country into a middle income status and it is a priority of the government. However, there are a few still wider gaps especially in schools which continue to disadvantage girls and women in education and sports like lowering levels of efficiency especially in science and mathematics mainly among girls and stereotype in subject combinations, boys excelling in sciences and girls in arts,”
She further said schools should be able to identify the needs of students with special needs to enable them to get the necessary assistance.  At least 2,436 learners with special needs were registered for the 2022 Primary Leaving Examinations compared to 1,599 in 2020.

“I want to appeal to head teachers here to promote gender equality in education by creating a healthy and protective learning environment for both boys and girls, including learners with special needs,” she said.
She added: “Selection is not just an exercise in students’ placement, but one that determines and similar measures affect the lives of all students affected and influenced by new decisions built here today.”
Ms Lamaro appealed to schools to show commitment and objectivity during the selection exercise. She also cautioned teachers and heads of school against their absenteeism, adding that moonlighting has compounded the problem.