What you need to know:
- It is a good thing to provide students with an opportunity to choose which education they would like to pursue, after PLE and UCE. I have the experience of registration, first as a student. As a student, I remember that students were not provided with detailed information about this career options, especially technical/vocational.
Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) late registration of candidates for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) is still ongoing, until July 31. Late registration comes with a 50 or 100 percent surcharge on registration fee, which is half of Shs164,000 (UCE), or Shs186,000 for UACE.
While registering for UCE, it is a requirement for candidates to choose their academic pathway. They can choose either A-Level or vocational pathway. However, there’s also option of selecting none, in cases where a student is not yet decided during this time.
The Uneb e-registration software captures the academic pathway, using 4-digit codes, representing schools or institutions issued every year to schools. This has been the norm, even before UNEB computerised the registration process.
It is a good thing to provide students with an opportunity to choose which education they would like to pursue, after PLE and UCE. I have the experience of registration, first as a student. As a student, I remember that students were not provided with detailed information about this career options, especially technical/vocational.
Many years later, as teacher, I have come to realise that a majority of students choose the A-level pathway. For example, at Lira Town College, in the main centre, 45 of 499 candidates chose the technical/vocational career route. In the annex centre, only two of 30 candidates opted for vocational training. And the situation is like that in many other schools across Lango Sub-region.
There are several reasons for this state of affairs. First, primary or secondary school teachers themselves went through O-Level, and A-Level, and therefore have an inherent bias towards the A-Level pathway.
By allowing this important decision to be taken in school, Uneb actually encourages this biasness, making teachers easily influence students.
To enable independent decision-making, Uneb should create a platform that allows students to change their decision after exams.
Secondly, and this is perhaps the most important. I have been handling Uneb e-registration for eight years now, and I usually ask students why they prefer A-Level over technical option. A majority of them say that technical courses are boring, for example, tailoring, carpentry, building construction etc. They also say that they feel a strong desire to reach university, and A-Level provides a direct path to university.
In the last 15 years, the government has greatly emphasised the study of sciences, in order to achieve Vision 2040. In 2007, science subjects were made compulsory at O-Level. Furthermore, Uganda Business Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) was established in 2011 to assess all post-UCE business and technical courses in various institutions.
Additionally, the introduction of the new lower secondary competency-based curriculum in 2020, which emphasises practical skills, rather than theoretical knowledge, signals that government is focused on vocationalising our education system.
In order to ease enrollment into post-UCE technical institutions, technical, and other post UCE institutions must create clear admission criteria, and easy-to-use online admission platform, as public universities have done; and new exciting, practical courses should be designed to accommodate the interests of diverse range of people.
Most importantly, all students under the new lower secondary curriculum must be subjected to DIT exams, so that we all reap the benefits of this new curriculum.
The author, Mr Emmanuel Angoda is the founder of Triskelion Education and Skills Initiative and teacher of ICT at Lira Town College.