The minister asks local leaders to take stern action against parents primary school drop-outs.
By Francis Kagolo & Steven Candia
KAMPALA - The Minister for Education, Jessica Alupo, has asked local leaders to start taking stern action, including arrests, against parents whose children drop out of primary school.
This was during the release of last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results in Kampala on Thursday, where it was revealed that a total of 1,158 pupils got aggregate four and five.
Reminding local leaders about the Education Act which made primary education universal and compulsory, Alupo said parents have no excuse not to keep their children in school.
“I reiterate my call to local leaders to put pressure on parents and guardians to send their children to school and ensure that they complete the education cycle at each level,” Alupo said.
“Districts with the lowest number of enrollment in PLE should use UPE to increase enrollment,” she added.
The minister was responding to concerns raised by the Uganda National Examinations Board that a number of candidates who registered for the PLE did not turn up for the exams.
From left, UNEB Secretary Matthew Bukenya, UNEB chairperson Prof Mary Okwakol and Minister Alupo
Most of the culprits were girls, a problem Alupo attributed to early marriages and teenage pregnancies, as well as child labour.
“The number of candidates who register in any district is partly dependent on the local leaders’ initiative to ensure that children attend school,” Alupo said.
Alupo noted that some districts still register a small number of candidates compared to the population of school-going children in the areas.
The minister, however, commended the overall steady increase in PLE candidature due to the UPE programme.
The number of candidates has shot up from 406,000 in 2003 when the first benefi ciaries of UPE sat PLE, to 604,971 last year. This represents a 49% increment. Of the candidates who sat PLE last year, 78.5% were UPE beneficiaries.
“This is not a small achievement as it means that the number of candidates benefiting from UPE has grown by almost half since 2003,” Alupo noted.
He wasn't shy to put on display what he managed to achieve in last year's PLE. (Photo credit: Henry Nsubuga)
The minister also expressed satisfaction in achieving near gender equality in access to basic formal education.
“Gender balance is a crucial factor in enhancing access to education and provision of equal opportunities between men and women,” Alupo said.
Thematic curriculum has improved PLE performance
Meanwhile, the performance in PLE has improved compared to the previous year. The 2014 results show that there was a 1% improvement in performance.
In 2013, only 9.4% candidates passed in Division One, but the number went up to 10.4% in last year’s PLE. There was also a percentage increment of candidates from 53.6 to 56.9% in Division Two.
Candidates of Seeta Parents School in Mukono celebrate success after the PLE results were released. (Photo credit: Henry Nsubuga)
In Division Three, there was a maintained 75.9% pass as of the previous year, and then 0.3% improvement from 88.1% as of the previous year.
A total of 604,971 candidates registered for PLE in 2014 and of these, 471,914 (78.5%) were under Universal Primary Education.
A candidate is deemed to have passed if he or she obtained divisional grades 1, 2, 3 or 4. Such candidates will qualify to register for any post-primary examinations conducted by UNEB.
According to Matthew Bukenya, the executive secretary of the Uganda National Examination Board, social studies was the best done subject, and English the worst done.
“Under the thematic curriculum, there is gradual improvement in the quality of pupils sitting for national examinations. This shows that this curriculum is working,” he said.
Selection for Senior One is set for January 28 and 29 at Kampala International University in Kampala.
Arrest parents who oppose UPE, says Alupo