Results from last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) were released last Friday by the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb).
This being one of the ceremonies for which she doesn’t delegate, our First Lady and Education minister Janet Museveni was the presiding officer.
Handing over voluminous copies containing results by Uneb to the minister is usually part of the ceremonies. I hope the First Lady, together with her dear husband, will sit down to read and analyze these results.
But if, because of their busy schedule, they fail to find time, statistics by Uneb should help them realise how bad both of them are at management.
Universal Primary Education (UPE), directly superintended by Ms Museveni, presented 466,235 candidates for PLE last year. Only 18,363 candidates passed in division one, representing four per cent.
Private schools, not directly managed by Ms Museveni, presented 179,955 candidates and 38,819 (22 per cent) passed in division one.
The total of UPE candidates who passed in division two is 199,222 (44 per cent) while candidates from private schools who passed in this division are 94,704 (53 per cent).
This simply means that 75 per cent of children who sit for PLE in private schools pass either in division one or two. The total in UPE schools is 48 per cent.
UPE candidates who scored zero in each of the four subjects and were, therefore, not graded at all are 49,647 (which is equivalent to half a million children in ten years).
Newspapers, which are our main source of information on such important statistics, have relegated this information to inner pages.
Maybe I am asking too much; but I would expect newspapers to also bring us pictures of parents and children mourning PLE results. For me, such children are the real story, not those who scored aggregate four and are at Serena busy munching chicken.
As a country, we must be discussing why private schools are at 75 per cent in terms of percentage performance (division one and two) while public schools are at 48 per cent. Some of the Asian Tigers such as Malaysia have developed because they prioritized education, especially science.
According to the Budget Framework Paper containing figures for next financial year’s budget, we will spend Shs 1.2 trillion on primary education. The bulk of this money (Shs 1 trillion) will be sent to districts to pay teachers.
The total amount of money government plans to spend on each pupil is Shs 10,000 annually or Shs 3,300 per term. Apart from paying teachers, government gives each school about Shs 1 million to buy chalk and other necessities.
I recently presided over an end-of-year concert at Kireka C/U primary school and was shocked that this school, with nearly 700 pupils, is given just about Shs 1 million to meet its operation costs.
As a result, I was asked and I accepted to meet the cost of supplying it with electricity because whenever it rains, some poorly-ventilated classrooms get dark and classes cannot be conducted.
I spent about Shs 4 million and, thank God, the school is now fairly lit. I am now looking for a volunteer to connect all classrooms. Mind you, this is a school in town, just 11 kilometers from the city centre.
I think Uganda is not poor, but those of us in leadership are extremely selfish and wasteful. At Kampala Parents School, requirements for a new primary one child – tuition, registration, and uniform fees – amount to about Shs 2.5 million.
That is why there are nearly 200 first grades at this school and only six in the whole of Buvuma district or five in Kitgum.
Kampala Parents probably performs better than 20 ‘Museveni’ districts. Fighting this anomaly is what sane people must be exchanging blows for, not removal of age limits.
And PLE failures are a reflection of what goes on in all sectors. A lot of money is spent but there is very little or no output.
Today, all very important persons (VIPs) are seeking medical care at either of Nakasero, IHK, Case or Kampala hospitals. Why? Because our national referral hospital in Mulago has been deliberately run down by the regime.
Constructed almost 60 years ago by colonialists, we borrowed money five years ago to just refurbish it!
And I don’t think Museveni, his wife and group are without brains. They are intelligent but selfish. How come Museveni’s farms in Rwakitura and Kisozi are some of the most attractive in the country?
That is where Museveni takes every visitor to see how good he is as a manager, and not to Kyannamukaaka primary school. There could be two reasons for this.
Probably Uganda is too big to be run by Museveni who can only manage a farm at Rwakitura and Kisozi or, two, Museveni is deliberately failing our country.
Some people may be gifted and very good at running a kiosk but disastrous when entrusted with a supermarket. Maybe that is what befell our country.
The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.