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It is prayers and rest for candidates

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th October 2000 03:00 AM

CONSOLATION through prayer and counselling is now the best way to soothe the nerves of primary seven candidates ahead of Wednesday's Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).

* Constant soothing is required. Parents, teachers should avoid things that can upset the pupils CONSOLATION through prayer and counselling is now the best way to soothe the nerves of primary seven candidates ahead of Wednesday's Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). Experts say the candidates are now under a lot of pressure during this "incubation period" and everything should be done to ensure that they relax, get enough sleep and feed on a balanced diet. They should also desist from reading textbook material in the next two days to overcome the examination fever. "Tension and stress are very dangerous at this moment. Constant soothing is required and parents and teachers should avoid things that can upset the candidates," says Dr. Julius Enon, a senior lecturer of educational psychology at Makerere University. Primary seven candidates will begin their final examinations on Wednesday with Social Studies (SST) in the morning and English in the afternoon. They will wind up with the Mathematics and Science papers the following day. A survey among some of the leading Kampala primary schools last week revealed that they were engaged in intensive teaching to ensure that they retain their supremacy in national exams. Some of them were reportedly conducting lessons from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Several parents also spent the weekend visiting their children in boarding schools to 'morale boost' them for the UNEB exams. Stationery and gift shops recorded a high turn-up of customers as the demand for success cards went up. "My son needs a success card. He may feel demoralised and even fail the exams if I don't send him a card," said Rose Kagoda, a parent of Kamuli Boys primary school. Enon says parents should not create the impression that UNEB exams are very special and difficult to pass. Such a feeling, he adds, creates panic which may result into poor performance. "The home atmosphere should not be any different because the candidates might think that they are going to sit very special exams. Parents and teachers should not give the candidates much to do because this will tire them and increase tension and panic," added Enon, whose daughter is also one of this year's candidates. As the clock ticks to the briefing hour, most schools have stopped normal lessons to concentrate on revising past examination papers. Candidates are now being encouraged to concentrate more on such papers than their notes and textbooks. Although some teachers say past papers encourage cram work, others believe they are now the best tool in exposing the candidates to the type of questions they will face. "Perusing through such papers gives the candidates the much needed confidence to face the exams. They make them more committed and reduces unnecessary tension," says Mr. Elijah Ntambi, deputy headteacher City Parents School. Ntambi, who is also a P7 science teacher says parents should be calm and compassionate to their children during the next two days. "They (parents) should create a conducive environment at home and school. Any mistake at home can affect the candidate's performance," he added. Sociologists, however, say the candidates should spend the next two days in group discussions sharing ideas in order to overcome the tension. "Group discussions will give the candidates a common identity and a special unity of purpose ahead of the exams. They will develop distinctive patterns which will help them overcome examination fever," said a lecturer at the Makerere University department of sociology. His view is shared by Rogers Mwalye, a P7 science teacher at Lohana Academy. Many parents are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that no serious problem strikes between now and Wednesday to interfere with the examination preparation. Problems like sickness and loss of a relative can cause a candidate to miss the exams. It is indeed every parent's prayer that disaster does not strike. No wonder, a parent, whose daughter will sit her PLE at Gayaza Junior School says she does not want anyone to inform the candidate that her father was admitted to hospital last week. The situation is, however, quite different in UPE schools, particularly those in rural schools. The number of candidates is quite high and the teaching is not as exhaustive as it is in private schools. But some upcountry day schools have reportedly asked all P7 candidates to carry their mattresses and other personal effects to school-ready to reside there in preparation for the exams. Those in schools without electricity use kerosene and gas lamps for studying which often goes up to midnight as they undergo special training for the exams. This can, however, be counter-productive if it goes on for the next two days, according to a veteran teacher and curriculum specialist, Edna Bakahena. "Teaching must be over. The candidates should now be resting and cheered up by holding a picnic so that they can relax. It should all be about psychological preparation," she explains. Bakahena also says parents should avoid making comparisons between their children and those from other families, she adds. As one analyst said: "All that the candidates need now is rest, stability, good feeding and fun." Ends.

It is prayers and rest for candidates

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