Aggrey Kibenge, the senior communications officer in Ministry of Education and Sports, attributes it to commercialisation of education. Besides, he observes, parents assess a schoolsâ€™ performance based on grades.
â€œThat is why there are interviews for P.1, in P.4 to be join upper primary, to qualify to sit P.7, to enter S.1, even to be on the list to sit S.4 or 6 lest you are advised to find another school to claim your second grade,â€ he says.
Kibenge says if there are to be genuine interviews for P.1, they should be very basic. â€œA teacher should assess that a child can live independent of parents, have developed good health habits and have wider community interaction. But there are also parents struggling to have their children in primary when they are very young. These interviews should be able to help weed out the under-age,â€ Kibenge says.
Nonetheless, Kibenge notes that with or without interviews, a childâ€™s ability to cope will depend on the school and the teaching system.
â€œParents should find a school consummate with the childâ€™s abilities and exposure. You do not expect a child from Butambala village to be at the same level with a child who was raised and went to nursery in Kampala.â€
Kibenge says nursery school could do a lot in orienting and preparing a child for P.1. but regrets that the majority of rural schools have no nursery sections. â€œThat is why our only requirement is for a child to be aged six years.â€
He says the demand for pre-primary education is still low and only about 10% of the total school going children pass through pre-primary schools.
Kibenge says the education ministry knows about the interview trend but cannot stop it because they have to respect individual school standards as long as they do not compromise the quality of primary education. â€œWe give minimum standards but since we have left nursery education in the hands of private schools, we have to respect continuity. But the P.1 curriculum is standard. Take your child where there are no interviews, like UPE schools,â€ he says.
THE MINISTRYâ€™S STAND