1 February 2013

Uganda: S1 Cut-Off Points, Fees Revealed

Following the release of the PLE results, the senior one selection exercise kicked-off yesterday, giving some clues to this year's overall school cut off points, fees and how many candidates may fail to get a secondary school placement altogether.

More pupils than last year will be joining schools that were not their first, second or even third choice, after government schools hiked the cut-off points owing to the improved PLE performance.

The results showed that 480,067 candidates passed their PLE compared to 444,815 in the 2011 exams. According to head teachers at the selection exercise at Wonderworld in Kansanga, more pupils beat last year's cut-off points, putting more pressure on the selection process.

"We are now in a competitive age where we are seeing an improvement in performance every other year and this is why we are having more students being sold off this year compared to last year," said Francis Xavier Kyasa, the head teacher of Midland High School, Kawempe.

However, Gayaza High School, Mt St Mary's College Namagunga, St Mary's College Kisubi and King's College Budo maintained their cut-off points at five. Of the 5,000 pupils who applied to join senior one at Mengo SS, only 600 could make it, a number higher than last year's 420.

A further 1,130, who applied to join Namilyango College, will receive admission letters from elsewhere. Only 100 made the official senior one list. Gayaza High School could only admit 150 and sold off 1,400 pupils, while Mount St Mary's College Namagunga admitted 100 and sold over 1,000.

Maryhill High School in Mbarara admitted 250 to senior one and sold off 935, while Ndejje SS in Luweero sold off 1,066 and could only admit 140. Nyakasura School in Kabarole admitted 180, the same as last year. Some 590 applicants didn't make it. Kyasa explained that with the increasing competition among schools, more pupils are finding that improved performance may not necessarily get them into schools of their choice. Jinja College sold 752 and admitted 320, forty more than last year.

"Many parents are going to get a shock ... because if their child got aggregate four or five, they believe they should get into a particular school, but these schools have quotas, set by government," he explained.

Selling lists

This, Kyasa explains, is how the issue of a selling list came about.

"Once the first choice school doesn't admit you, you are 'sold' to the second choice - and if this one doesn't admit you, you end up on your third choice," he said.

Once a pupil has not been selected by their third choice, they are automatically sold to a vocational school, or remain unselected. The selection exercise, which ends today, will see about 316,980 admitted out of the over 500,000 students who sat for PLE, to secondary schools and vocational institutes across the country.

The acting commissioner for secondary education, Francis Agula, noted that this year's admission reflected a 22% increment over last year's performance. The selection exercise is intended to fill senior one places at 922 Universal Secondary Education (USE) schools, 115 government-aided non- USE schools, 62 vocational schools and 863 private-public partnership school.

Increased fees

The senior one class officially starts on February 18, 2013. For those lucky enough to be admitted, there will be the added realisation that school dues have been hiked at most schools, in line with the increasing cost of living. However, most head teachers were at pains to explain that the increment takes into account new requirements such as school uniforms, identity cards and textbooks.

Schools with a notable increment in fees include Mengo SS (Shs 608,000 up from Shs 540,000 last year), Stella Maris College Nsube (Shs 700,000 up from Shs 650,000). A few other schools have maintained last year's senior one fees structure. For example, those admitted to Nyakasura School will pay Shs 670,000.

At Namilyango College, the new students are expected to pay Shs 690,000. New students at Wanyange Girls School in Jinja and Maryhill Girls School in Mbarara will part with Shs 800,000. At Midland College in Kawempe students will part with Shs 530,000. By press time, many head teachers were still in the process of determining the new fees structure for the incoming students.

Technical schools in selling spree

The increased pressure at the top has slipped to the vocational schools, with many dropping students. Inde Technical School in Arua took 60 students and sold off 22, while 111 are unselected, meaning they may not gain admission anywhere. This school's admission cut-off point is 18 aggregate points.

Dokolo Technical School admitted 60 students, up from 40 last year, but 232 were sold off, up from 210 last year. A whopping 1,325 candidates are unselected, an increase from 920 last year. Rweiziringiro Technical School in Mbarara lowered their cut-off points to 28, down from 25 last year, and still could only admit 60, compared to 40 last year. The school sold off 18, while 41 are unselected.

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