After two decades of insurgency which affected northern Uganda with education being hit hard, it is not surprising that many students in the north continue to fail national examinations, including the Islamic Primary Leaving Examinations (IPLE), as results released recently show.
The results were released at Tagy Hotel in Kampala by the Uganda Qur'an Schools Association (UQSA).The subjects include Arabic language and grammar (Lughatul Arabiyya), memorizing and learning the meaning of the holy Qur'an, Islamic jurisprudence (Fikihi) and Islamic history and the traditions of the prophet (Tarubiya).
According to Dr. Haruna Jemba, the secretary general, UQSA, Islamic schools in the north lack facilities like reading materials and the teachers do not have access to training, unlike those in the central region.
"This has affected them [northern schools] so much, but as an association, we are determined to train the religious tutors there and also provide enough books for them," Haruna explained, adding that next year should see improved performance.
Despite producing the worst performance countrywide, Zubair Ashiraf Juma from Arua Islamic school, Abdu Rahid Ali Guvule from Paidha Islamic Foundation school and Mubarak Rasul Abbas also from Arua Islamic are a source of hope to the northern region. They each scored five and eight aggregates respectively. Despite producing the worst performance countrywide, Zubair Ashiraf Juma, and Mubarak Rasul Abbas and Abdu Rahid Ali Guvule had the best results in the Northern region.
Meanwhile, out of the 2,450 pupils who sat for these exams, 546 passed in first grade, 690 in second grade, 448 in third grade and 455 in fourth grade. Twenty-five pupils who registered did not turn up while 286 were ungraded. For Haruna, the IPLE is not about coaching students to get good grades but instilling in them religious values.
"What makes us proud and their parent too, is when these children can read the Qur'an, communicate in Arabic and also train others. We also want them to use this knowledge to fight falsehood in society, especially with rising vices of corruption and homosexuality", Haruna said of the Islamic examinations.
Even with good results in all the other regions, especially the central region, Sheikh Ishaq Kazibwe, the secretary of the Islamic National Examinations Board (INEB) was disappointed that Arabic language is still a big problem, as pupils can neither read nor write it.
He also attributed the poor performance to schools that force pupils to sit for these examinations while still in primary six instead of primary seven. Kazibwe showed that such pupils easily forget what they were taught at that stage when joining senior one.
The top ten schools in IPLE in the country were Sumayya Islamic school in Iganga; Nsujjumpolwe Islamic school, Mpigi; Answaar Islamic school, Lyantonde; Kyotera Islamic school; Dwaniro Islamic school, Rakai; King Faisal Islamic primary school, Mbale; Mitala Maria Islamic school, Mpigi; Arqam Islamic school, Iganga; Alhaq Islamic school, Matugga; and Zamzam Islamic school, Nabweru.