Education minister Janet Museveni has said there should be no more pre-registration tests or examinations within public and private schools as candidates prepare for national examinations.
Speaking during the release of 2017 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results in Kampala yesterday, Ms Museveni said pre-tests denied many candidates a chance of sitting last year’s examinations.
A total of 646,190 candidates from 12, 751 centres registered for PLE in 2017 compared to 640,833 at 12,391 centres in 2016.
“The practice of placing hurdles before these young learners in the form of “pre-registration” tests increases dropouts and should stop immediately,” Ms Museveni said.
“I have noted that the [average] rate of increase in candidature has reduced from over three per cent to just under one per cent. Uneb tried to find out the reasons for this, and what has come out from some districts is unacceptable.”
She said districts must, instead, put in place mechanisms to ensure effective teaching throughout the primary education cycle in order to achieve better PLE results.
In addition to mock examinations, most schools set examinations to sieve learners for registration in their schools. Unsuccessful candidates are usually registered at different centers to maintain good grades at the school centre.
Ms Museveni commended districts such as Arua, Moyo and Adjumani which host large numbers of refugees for registering very significant increases in the number of candidates last year.
According to Uneb executive secretary Dan N Odongo, whereas previous years registered a significant percentage increase in candidature of about three to five per cent each year, the increase in candidature from 2016 to 2017 reduced to 0.8 per cent.
Uneb statistics indicate that at least 10 districts had their registration figures decline, Bulambuli recording the highest percentage at 24 per cent. In 2016, the district registered at least 3,022 candidates but declined to 2,297 in 2017.
Bulambuli is followed by Buyende (21.7 per cent), Serere (21.6 per cent), Sironko and Pallisa (16.9 per cent each), Kaliro (15.5 per cent), Mubende (15.4 per cent), Luuka (12.7 per cent), Iganga (12.2 per cent) and Mayuge at 11 per cent.
However, Yumbe registered the highest percentage variance in candidature at 61.1 per cent. Moyo came second with (40.7 per cent), Adjumani (34.2 per cent), Kaberamaido (29.3 per cent), Arua (23.6 per cent), Bundibugyo (15.4 per cent) and Ntoroko with 11.3 per cent.
Generally, Uneb chairperson Prof Mary Okwakol said, many districts registered fewer candidates in 2017 PLE examinations.
“The board found out that in most districts, the pupils were subjected to what was called a pre-registration test administered centrally by the districts. Those who did not score a pre-determined mark were not allowed to register for the PLE,” Okwakol said.
Meanwhile, with improved performance in Social Studies and Science subjects last year and a decline in Mathematics and English language, Ms Museveni urged teachers to refocus their methods of teaching.
“The teaching appears to be theoretical and emphasizes drilling of candidates. While performance in Mathematics indicates that more learners got the minimum pass at grade 8, the desired quality passes have declined,” she said, attributing the decline in Mathematics to failure by candidates to handle questions with practical applications.