The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: PLE - the Top 3,000 Schools

Parents have been blamed for the high drop out rateof pupils in schools.     ( Resource: Over 20,000 Uganda Pupils Missed National Exams

With all its 108 pupils passing in first division, Hillside Primary School in Wakiso leads a group of 18 schools with 100 per cent first grades in the 2012 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).

Waterford Primary School in Najjanankumbi returned to the top group after a one-year absence. The group includes Nyakasanga Infant P/S in Kasese, Rukungiri Universal P/S, Lypa Integrated P/S Rubindi in Mbarara, and Hillside P/S in Kamuli. Many of the renowned schools did very well too. For instance, the Sir Apollo Kaggwa group of schools (three) got at least 376 students in first division.

City Parents School got Kampala's largest number of students in first division at 241, followed by Kampala Parents School at 230, Greenhill Academy (207), St. Peter's Nsambya (143), King Fahad Islamic P/S (142) and Good Times Kawaala (135). The head teachers at these schools can be guaranteed more pressure from parents looking to enroll their pupils there, with the first term only weeks away.

With traditional giants like Buganda Road and Nakasero Primary School losing ground, St. Peter's Nsambya (143) is now arguably the best UPE school in the country, ahead of Kitante P/S (128). The performance of UPE schools across the country points to a narrowing of the performance gap between private schools and their government aided counterparts due to the success of ongoing initiatives such as more inspection and scholastic support from government.

For instance, the top five schools in Jinja are all government aided. However, in Masaka the top 15 schools are all privately owned, including Leo's Junior Academy, whose dormitory caught fire last year, killing three pupils. This school got the district's largest number of students in first division (168). In Bushenyi, the privately owned Pearl Junior School and Parental Care P/S came just slightly ahead of the state-sponsored St Kaggwa Boarding P/S.

But for its eight students in second division, St Kaggwa would have topped the district. The competition in Kampala district is stiffest, followed by Wakiso. There was a dramatic improvement in performance in Masaka, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Kabale, Rukungiri and Kabarole districts, with established schools improving their ratings, while sleeping giants are also beginning to up their game.

According to the Uneb Executive Secretary, Mathew Bukenya, the general performance improved over the previous year's standards; with 480,067 rated as having passed, compared to 444,815 in the 2011 exams. The tables attached show the percentage of schools scoring first division against the total candidates who sat. This means that schools that saw all their students pass in first division would have scored 100%.

The results represent the first cohort of students who studied under the new thematic curriculum, which seeks to educate pupils in their local languages up to primary four, before they switch to English. The English language results lend credence to the fact that this calibre of students tends to appreciate the official language better, as it was the best performed subject followed by Social Studies and Religious Education.

Some 565,663 students sat for PLE, nearly 30,000 more than those who sat the previous year. A look at the performance shows that schools in central and western Uganda continue to perform better than elsewhere. However, districts like Iganga, Kamuli and Kayunga saw a decline in performance.

The rate of improvement in performance also continues to grow with nearly 10,000 more students making it into first division compared to 7,050 the previous year. However, the biggest growth is in second division where nearly 40,000 more made it this time round, compared to 2010 when there was a drop of 4,000 candidates.

Reported by Prisca Baike, Joseph Kimbowa, Alon Mwesigwa, Edgar Angumya, Frank Kisakye, Immaculate Wanyenze, Rachael Ninsiima and Moses Talemwa.

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