The Observer (Kampala)

8 February 2013

Uganda: O-Levels - Namagunga, Kisubi Kitende, Ntare Shine

Mt St Mary's College Namagunga reclaimed its top slot in the O-levels with a 100% performance in the 2012 examination results, which were released in Kampala yesterday.

All her candidates passed in division one. Namagunga was followed by St Mary's College Kisubi, St Mary's SS Kitende, Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo, with Ntare School in fifth position. St Mary's Kitende however, got the highest number of students with first grades, 399 in all, followed by Uganda Martyrs Namugongo (252) and Ntare (245).

That Namagunga solely registered a 100% success rate in the latest results highlighted a slight decline over last year's general performance. Releasing the results at Statistics House, Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) Executive Secretary Matthew Bukenya admitted that the performance had dropped slightly. For instance, 22,630 students passed in division I in 2011, compared to 18,826 in the latest results.

"I encourage those who didn't do well to try another time," Bukenya said.

He blamed the performance on poor performance in the crucial subjects of English language and Literature. To Bukenya, if exams are set in English and students don't understand the language, they are likely to "misunderstand the question" and present "unwanted" answers, leading to failure. This also makes students fail to comprehend other subjects.

But Bukenya also attributes this failure to teachers who, he says, encourage students to cram instead of teaching them to understand the subjects. He also attacked the use of pamphlets, saying they just encourage students to list answers rather than explaining them. Bukenya also attributed the high failure rates in sciences to teachers who are simply disseminating theory rather than employing hands-on training.

"Most schools (especially the USE [Universal Secondary Education] schools) have adequate laboratory chemicals and apparatus, the laboratories are more of stores than rooms for science practical work."

"The non-use of these facilities results in lack of practice by the candidates. This affected the performance in sciences," he said, praising President Museveni for his visionary idea of introducing free education for all that has enabled many students to access the right to education.

There were several disconcerting statistics in the 2012 O-level examinations, according to the results released yesterday. The number of registered candidates dropped by 4,457 from 273,363 candidates in 2011 to 268,906 in the latest results. Universal Secondary Education registration declined. The number of candidates who actually sat also shrank. And overall performance declined.

Coupled with this overall drop in performance, fewer students obtained the magical eight aggregates in eight subjects than usual. In our table, we have listed 83 of the students who managed this feat. There is also a table showing the percentage of students who passed in first division and another table showing the top 150 schools with the highest number of students excelling in first division.

At least 28 schools could have their results and centres canceled, according to Education Minister Jessica Alupo, for allegedly cheating. That could mean at least 1,127 candidates face an uncertain future, as the minister has directed Uneb to strip their schools of centre numbers, if they have been caught more than once before.

Mathematics and other science subjects were poorly done while girls failed English, which was the worst done subject.

Bushenyi, Jinja, Kampala, Masaka, Mukono, Mityana, Wakiso, Ntungamo, Kabale and Iganga were among the best performing districts while Adjumani, Bundibugyo, Kalangala, Kotido, Katakwi, Bukedea, Bududa, Abim, Kaabong, Amudat, Kyakwanzi, Namayingo, Buvuma, Gomba, Bulambuli and Aleptong posted dismal results.

Among these, Katakwi, Nakapiripiriti and Amudat had no first grade while Ntoronko got one first grade. Kyankwanzi and Buvuma had two first grades respectively.

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