While it was surprising enough that more pupils failed the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) in 2008 than in 2007, the failure pattern is even more surprising,
MANAFWA district recorded the highest number of failures in last yearâ€™s Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), while Fort Portal municipality registered no failures at all, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Manafwa had a total of 6,021 candidates who sat for PLE. Of these only four pupils passed in division one, indicating 0.1% pass. Only 579 pupils were in division two; while 2,456 pupils failed, indicating 44.2% of the total number of candidates.
In Bududa, the second worst performing district, only 18 out of the 2,206 PLE candidates were in division one while 860 candidates failed. The other eight poor performing districts include Namutumba, Kayunga, Kaliro, Gulu, Kiboga, Rakai, Amuru and Lira.
Out of 1,143 candidates who sat for PLE in Fort Portal municipality, 297 passed in division one. They constituted 26.3% of the total. And 801 candidates emerged in division two, making up 71% of the total. Other candidates were in the third and fourth divisions.
The other nine districts and areas with the least numbers of failures include the municipalities of Mbarara, Soroti, Kabale, Jinja, Entebbe, Mbale, Masaka, Lira and Gulu. Kampala was ranked eleventh in the country.
The decline in last yearâ€™s performance compared to the previous years has been attributed to teacher and pupilsâ€™ absenteeism which has led to inadequate coverage of the syllabus.
Also, there is understaffing in schools due to lack of teachersâ€™ houses; hunger which affects pupilsâ€™ academic performance, poor comprehension of English, the language in which exams are set.
When ranked according to regions, the northern region registered the worst performance, with a failure rate of 28%; followed by the eastern region as the second worst performers with a failure rate of 23%.
The West Nile region was the third worst with 20.6% failure rate; followed by the central region with a failure rate of 19.6%.
The western region comprising of Bunyoro and Toro were the best performers with a failure rate of only 8.3%.
The north-eastern region, comprising of districts in Karamoja, were second best, with a failure rate of 12.68%. The south-western Uganda comprising of Ankole and Kigezi regions was third with a failure rate of 13.9%.
The central region which is comprised of 18 districts recorded a percentage failure of 19.6%. The districts include Kampala, Mpigi, Rakai, Kiboga, Nakaseke, Masaka, Luweero, Mityana, Nakasongola, Mubende, Mukono, Kalangala, Lyantonde, Wakiso, Kayunga, Masaka Municipality, Entebbe and Sembabule.
The 28 districts of Eastern Uganda recorded a total failure rate of 23%. A total of 31,806 failed out of 130,011 who sat for PLE. The districts include Manafwa, Bududa, Namutumba, Kaliro, Iganga, Soroti, Bukwo, Kapchorwa, Butaleja, Soroti municipality, Kamuli, Mayuge, Tororo municipality, Pallisa, Budaka, Mbale, Jinja, Tororo, Bukedea, Bugiri, Kumi, Katakwi, Amuria, Kaberamaido, Busia, Sironko, Mbale municipality and Jinja municipality.
Also, the northern region had a collective pupil failure rate of 28%, which is the highest in the country. A total of 12,068 pupils failed in these districts out of the 46,457 pupils who sat PLE.
Districts in the northern region include Amuru, Lira, Dokolo, Amolatar, Pader, Apac, Kitgum, Oyam, Gulu municipality, Lira municipality and Gulu.
There was a failure rate of 12.68% in the north eastern districts of Kabong, Abim, Nakapiripirit, Moroto and Kotido. Out of the 3,734 pupils who sat for PLE, 476 failed.
In the northwest districts of Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Nebbi, Arua, Koboko and Arua municipality, the failure rate was at 20.6%. Out of the 28,434 pupils who sat for PLE, 5,358 failed.
Districts in south-western Uganda recorded a failure rate of 14%. Of the 68,229 pupils who sat PLE, 5,742 pupils failed. in south western Uganda. The region includes Rukungiri, Ntungamo, Kabale, Kisoro, Bushenyi, Kanungu, Kabale municipality, Mbarara municipality, Mbarara, Ibanda, Isingiro and Kiruhura districts.
In the western region, Bundibugyo, Hoima, Kamwenge, Kibaale, Kasese, Kyenjojo, Buliisa, Masindi, Fort Portal municipality and Kabarole districts, the failure percentage was 8%.
This means that the region was the best performing in the country. Out of the 49,679 pupils who sat PLE, only 6,271 failed.
Statistics indicate that Social Studies (SST) was the best done subject with a cumulative percentage pass of 82.5%, followed by Mathematics with 82.3%. English and Science both had a cumulative percentage pass of 79.6%.
UNEB observed that there was a general decline in performance of candidates compared to previous years of 2007 and 2006. Each region, however, has its own peculiarities that could be the cause of poor performance.
On the whole, the UNEB executive secretary, Matthew Bukenya, cites teacher and learner absenteeism, late reporting to school and early departure from school by both pupils and teachers. Also, many teachers rely on past papers instead of developing concepts for the learners, to encourage them to reason. There is a low level of literacy which affects candidatesâ€™ level of understanding of questions, hence performance.
Primary education minister Peter Lokeris notes that many children under the Universal Primary Education programme go to school hungry. This he says affects their ability to comprehend in class.
Under UPE programme, schools are not allowed to levy fees on pupils to provide them with meals at school.
Lokeris also observes that there is a low level of inspection of schools to oversee the administration and teaching in schools. This questions the role of inspectors of schools. While Gulu district has largely enjoyed peace in the last two years, the academic performance is still poor because the candidates were victims of the insurgency. This insurgency affected their education when they were still in lower classes.
In many of the rural areas, while the agricultural modernisation programmes have been instrumental in addressing rural poverty, analysts cite that the programme has negatively impacted on education.
This happens when parents forbid their children, particularly the boys, from going to school to go to the gardens to scare away the birds from the rice fields. Such cases have been reported in all the regions countrywide.
PLE: Bugisu, Mpigi, Kiboga, Amuru, Gulu performed worst