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Kigezi activists call for review of UPE policy

By Job Namanya

Added 30th January 2019 07:16 PM

In the 2018 PLE, Kabale district local government schools under the UPE program registered 158 learners in Division 1

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Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda (right) and Robert Kakuru addressing the media in Kabale. Photo by Job Namanya

In the 2018 PLE, Kabale district local government schools under the UPE program registered 158 learners in Division 1

As the NRM government continues to celebrate the successful implementation of Universal Primary Education, a section of activists in the Kigezi region are calling for the review of policies governing this initiative, so as to make it more helpful for Ugandans.

President Yoweri Museveni while speaking during the 33rd Liberation Day celebrations in Tororo district on Saturday, launched the Universal Primary Education (UPE) book that explains the history of the policy that came into effect in 1997 and the achievements so far registered.

Museveni said that UPE has borne remarkable fruits because in 1986, only 2.5 million children were in primary school but as of today, over 8 million children are attending UPE schools and about 670,000 children sat Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) in one year alone.

The President explained that in the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme, the number has risen from over 900,000 to 1.8 million children in secondary schools, adding that when those in universities and tertiary Institutions are included, the number rises to 10 million children in school. This represents one quarter of the total population of the country.

Speaking at the same function, the First Lady and education minister, Janet Museveni, noted that the programme has enabled children, who may otherwise not have had the opportunity to acquire education and skills, to access the vital need.

However, Robert Kakuru, the Executive director for Kick Corruption Out of Uganda (KICK-U) a local NGO, says if the programmes are not well explained for the public not to look at them as political projects, they may not yield substantial results for Ugandans.

Kakuru was on Monday addressing a press briefing at KICK-U’s offices in Kirigime ward, Kabale Municipality.

“This project has for long been interpreted by some parents as a political favour from the government to the extent that some parents think that UPE learners belong to Museveni. There should be a clear cost-sharing arrangement for this project to be more fruitful,” he said.

Kakuru suggested that government should sit down with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that their views towards this initiative are considered for its effective implementation.

Donantos Eguma Turinawe a social affairs critic in the region, said there is also a great need to have more supervision on how UPE is being implemented in the schools where it is working.

“If we are to be realistic, most UPE schools do not get enough supervision from the leaders in this sector. This has greatly contributed to a lot of laxity in these schools which in the long run limits their performance,” he said.

Derrick Kugumisiriza, the KICK-U programs manager condemned the idea of focusing on promoting all learners in UPE despite the poor performances of some of them.

“It is a common practice of most UPE schools to promote learners to other classes even when their grades are not pleasing. This has denied the nation quality pupils who would succeed in their examinations,” he said.

Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the Inter-Religious Council chairperson for Kigezi sub-region stressed that if UPE was well integrated to also benefit children of top level government officials, it would have limited challenges.

“The packaging of UPE appears as if it was only meant for the disadvantaged in society and that is why you will not find ministers, Members of Parliament and other great citizens taking their children to UPE schools,” said Batanyenda.

However, to Moses Bwengye Tumwesigye, the Kabale District Inspector of schools, despite the existing challenges in UPE, it is doing a great job in transforming the lives of Ugandans.

He cited that more UPE learners continue to perform better in the district.

“In the 2018 PLE, Kabale district local government schools under the UPE program registered 158 learners in Division 1 while 1267 came in Division 2. We are so hopeful that with more efforts, this program will continue to help our people,” he said.

According to statistics from the Uganda National Examinations Board, a total of 671,923 candidates registered to sit PLE in 2018 at 13,072 centres across the country and of the total candidates, 476,131 were from UPE schools and 195,792 from private schools.

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