Uganda: Ministry to Schools - Don't Set Exams Yet

19 October 2020

The Ministry of Education and Sports has warned schools against bothering candidates with examinations as learners report back to prepare for their final exams.

Mr Charles Tony Mukasa Lusambu, the commissioner in-charge of Primary Education, said learners should be allowed to settle down.

After more than six months of school closure due to Covid-19 lockdown, government allowed finalists to resume studies on October 15.

However, Mr Lusambu said some schools are so used to setting exams that they cannot afford seeing learners not doing exams.

"These children are not coming back to school to do exams. No. They are coming back to school to learn. We must learn to live under the new normal. One thing you have to teach those children is social distancing," he said.

Mr Lusambu dismissed claims by some people that Primary Seven candidates are reporting back to sit for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).

He revealed that candidates will sit PLE in March 2021.

"I'm saying please for the first time do away with exams. If you want your cow to grow big, do you put it on a weighing scale, weighing it all the time? No! You feed it. You make sure it eats, drinks so that may be at the end of the year you can put it on the weighing scale. No... let the children settle down and learn," he said.

Mr Lusambu made the remarks while commissioning a new set of model sanitation facilities for three public schools and one health centre in Apac Municipality on Thursday at Atopi Primary School.

The beneficiary schools and the health centre are Arocha, Atopi and Apac primary schools, and Biasara Health Centre II.

The facilities were constructed by GIZ in partnership with the Ministry of Water and Environment through Water and Sanitation Development Facility- North.

The project was implemented to ensure sanitation improvement at the public institutions, according to Mr Fred Nuwagaba, the GIZ country coordinator.

Mr Tom Okello, the Apac District community development officer, said they have seen improvement in enrollment where sanitation facilities have been constructed.

Patricia Acan, a Primary Seven pupil of Atopi Primary School, applauded the initiative, adding that the project would go a long way in improving access to safe sanitation and hygiene.

The government standard for pupils per latrine stance ratio is 40:1 but in some schools, the ratio is 70:1.

Mr Lusambu appealed to teachers to be nice to the learners.

"Some of them will come back pregnant. We are saying they should all come back as they are. Just learn the way of dealing with them, even their discipline might have deteriorated after this long period.

"So, please don't harass them, and don't cane them [because] they are not doing it out of their will but because of the environment," he said.

Mr Lusambu added that the impact of Covid-19 has affected everybody.

"It's not only the children's behaviour that has changed but even teachers and the parents. Some parents are so stressed that when you put any request to them, they want to box you," he said.

Accordingly, head teachers have been urged to make sure they are aware of all these changes.

"Some of your teachers have also changed lifestyles... Some of them have roasted a bit of maize along the streets... So once in a while you will see them running out of school to go and roast maize. In such a scenario, head teachers need not to run out of their minds but instead should talk to their staff," the commissioner said.

The situation

More than 15 million learners enrolled in schools at different education levels. All schools that reopen for only candidates shall operate as day or boarding but not both. At least 10 to 15 students can be accommodated in a standard classroom for primary and secondary and tertiary institutions and ensuring good ventilation

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