8 February 2018

Uganda: Uneb Reports Better Results but USE Schools Top Failures

Photo: Alex Esagala/Daily Monitor
Ecam Robin Opungu and his teachers after he scored Aggregate 9 from Luyanzi College in Bweyogerere in Wakiso District, in last year’s UCE.

Kampala — The Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) has reported improved performance in last year's Senior Four examinations.

Presenting the results to the State minister for Higher Education, Dr Chrysostom Muyingo, yesterday, Mr Dan Odongo, the Uneb executive secretary, said performance in the 2017 Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations improved by 4.2 per cent from the previous year.

His statement shows that overall, 91.1 per cent candidates passed in Division One and Division 4, compared to 86.9 per cent in 2016.

"There was some improvement in performance in 2017 compared to 2016. Division One passes increased by 2.4 per cent and overall, the improvement is by about 4 per cent," Mr Odongo said.

Except in Division 4 and Division 9, the boys beat the girls overall.

However, the Uneb chairperson, Prof Mary Okwakol, was concerned that majority of the passes, like in the previous years, appeared in Division 4, the last pass grade.

Performance rating

"There is a reduction in failure rate from 13 per cent in 2016 to 8.9 per cent in 2017. There was a high percentage of candidates (41.8 per cent) passing at the minimum Division 4," Prof Okwakol said.

Mr Odongo revealed that results for 4,525 candidates were withheld due to "criminal and unprofessional acts by persons entrusted with the management of the examinations."

The affected individuals will be called by Uneb for a hearing before a decision is made whether to cancel or release their results.

Mr Odongo explained that schools which continued to perform better are those not implementing the government's free education-- Universal Secondary Education (USE).

He further noted that parents with children in non-USE schools pay a lot of money to facilitate their learning.

"Most non-USE candidates are from the traditional government-aided secondary schools, most of which are boarding schools whose fees structures do not fit in the USE fees framework. Others are from well-established private schools. The disparity in performance is, perhaps, not unexpected," he said.

For instance, only 6,005 USE schools had students who passed in Division One compared to 25,333 from non-USE schools. Majority of the failed students were from USE schools.

Mr Odongo reported that while the mean failure rate was at 8.8 per cent, districts such as Bukwo, Butaleja, Bundibugyo, Kween, Kapchorwa, Buliisa, Bulambuli, Pallisa, Sironko, Busia, Kasese and Bududa registered more than twice the national average failure rate.

Uneb recorded 27,955 students in Division 9, who will not get an Ordinary Level certificate unless they repeat Senior 4.

Dr Muyingo read the speech of Minister of Education Janet Museveni who was absent. In her speech, Ms Museveni decried the high failure rate and asked all players in the learning chain to work together to end it.

"I have also noted the drop in the rate of increase in candidature from 3.2 per cent in 2016 to less than one per cent in 2017. I note that absenteeism at this level is a bit lower, at 1.9 per cent. While this may sound a small figure, in real terms, it translates into more than 6,000 learners who, for some reason, registered but did not take the examination. This is a waste of our scarce resources, and more needs to be done by all stakeholders to reduce these numbers," she said.

Science subjects continued to be problematic to candidates, with Uneb reporting more than 40 per cent of them unable to exhibit the minimum required competency to be graded. Physics was the worst done subject.

Minister's concerns

Ms Museveni wondered why performance in science subjects continued to be poor even with the government support in retraining the teachers. She noted that government will recruit 2,000 teachers to improve on the staffing gap.

On examination malpractice, Mr Odongo said 81 suspects had been arrested by police, 49 of whom appeared in courts and were released on bail pending trial.

About 21 suspects, he said, had jumped police bond and criminal summons had been issued against them while 11 were due to appear in court as their case files were still with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for sanctioning.

According to Uneb, the biggest malpractice was candidates being assisted by third parties. However, Mr Odongo added that there were also cases of collusion where candidates copied from each other's answer sheets while others smuggled unauthorised materials into the examination rooms.

However, he added that the malpractices recorded were not substantial to warrant cancellation of examinations.

KEY ISSUES

Better performance. Overall, 91.1 per cent candidates passed in Division One and Division 4, compared to 86.9 per cent in 2016.

USE failures. Schools which continued to perform better are those not implementing the government's Universal Secondary Education (USE).

Failure in sciences. These continued to be problematic to candidates, with Uneb reporting more than 40 per cent of them unable to exhibit the minimum required competency to be graded.

Malpractice. The biggest malpractice was candidates being assisted by third parties and candidates copying from each other's answer sheets.

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