Exams: Stop despising unsuccessful learners

The Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, releases UCE results at State Lodge Nakasero on February 15, 2024. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA. 

What you need to know:

  • The issue: UCE results. 
  • Our view:  Failure must be expected along the journey. It is important that we should encourage unsuccessful learners at all levels to learn from mistakes, improve, and try again.

On Thursday, the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) officially released the 2023 Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examination results. At least 64,782 passed in Division One, 85,566 in Division Two, 83,545 in Division Three and 112,923 in Division Four. Another 14,879 were unsuccessful.

But whether your child passed with flying colours or failed miserably, the most important thing to understand is that those grades do not define our children.

Some parents are intolerant, they shout at their children, curse them or call them stupid as if life only depends on good grades. They forget that failure is part of life and good grades are not directly tied to success.

Our view is that failure must be expected along the journey. It is important that we should encourage unsuccessful learners at all levels to learn from mistakes, improve, and try again. Stop laughing at children who do not do well in exams.

There are several reasons why some learners perform poorly. In some occasions, parents even forget that they are part of the problem. Do not verify your children on account of poor grades. No one knows what tomorrow holds.

A 2013 study titled ‘Longitudinal Links Between Fathers’ and Mothers’ Harsh Verbal Discipline and Adolescents’ Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptoms’ by the University of Pittsburgh, found evidence that parental harsh verbal discipline can have a dramatic impact on the behavioural and emotional development of our children.

Harsh verbal discipline, according to the study, varies in severity, ranging from yelling and shouting at a child to using obnoxious words to humiliate children.

As responsible parents, it is important that we do not lose sight of the true purpose of education. Schooling is about educating and nurturing the whole learner and not just getting good exam results. And to the learners, your score only reflects what you have learnt in school, they do not determine your life.

Unsuccessful learners are not helpless, they have clear options. They can either re-sit the exam in June/July or join Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and pursue at least 15 Uganda Community Polytechnic Certificate (UCPC) and 25 national certificate courses.

UCPC is a qualification given to a primary seven leaver who pursues one of the 15 designated courses for a period of three years in any TVET institution while the national certificate is awarded to either a Senior Four leaver or UCPC holder who pursues a course for two years.

A P7 or UCE leaver can still pursue one of the highly skilled courses and attain a certificate which is equivalent to that of Senior Four or Senior Six. So the learners you are demonising because they were unsuccessful, can still take TVET or UCPC route and proceed up to the Post Graduate (PhD) level. These learners are trained in certain employable skills.