By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. The First Lady and Minister of Education, Janet Kataaha Museveni has explained the fate of over 20 pupils who missed the recently concluded Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) for various reasons.
MPs on Tuesday asked the Ministry of Education and Sports to explain what remedies have been put in place for students who were forced to miss PLE. This comes after reports that at least 20 primary seven pupils of Bahrain Nursery and Primary School at Buseyi Village, in Iganga District failed to sit for their PLE which started on Monday and ended on Tuesday.
Reports alleged that the pupils failed to sit for the exams after the school administration allegedly connived with Ministry of Education officials to misappropriate money meant for their registration.
In her statement, Education minister, Janet Museveni acknowledged that indeed pupils from the said school and others missed the PLE for various reasons including ill health and non-registration - a number which the ministry is yet to establish.
“A number of candidates that did not sit the exams for various reasons such as drop-out after registration and ill-health will be known after attendance records from all 13,027 centres are analyzed. However, some pupils did not take the examinations because they were not registered,” she said.
Mrs. Museveni said that 20 pupils from Bahrain Nursery and Primary School did not sit for exams because the school is not registered by Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) as an examination centre.
Media reports indicate that 5 and 6 other pupils from Busenya Junior School and St Peter’s Primary School in Butambala district respectively missed the exams, but Mrs. Janet says that the ministry is yet to verify this information.
On whether the ministry is considering setting a special exam for the affected pupils as requested by some MPs, Mrs. Museveni said it is unlikely that UNEB will administer remedial exams to the affected pupils because it is tedious considering that, “exam process starts with registration of candidates from March in a year and ends in June then preparation of exam setting, moderation, typesetting, printing, packing, distribution and field conduct of the examination papers.”
“Candidates of a particular year should be accessed using the same instruments to ensure uniformity in grading. Administering a different examination therefore to a group that did not sit is creating another examination within the main examination. It is not a good practice internationally,” she said.
The Minister added that giving another examination can only be done when the examination body cancels the main exams due to factors that render the exam invalid like errors or widespread malpractice.
“Giving another examination sets a dangerous precedence as school directors will be tempted to swindle funds for registration with knowledge that another examination is possible. Schools can start creating excuses for not presenting candidates if they know that there is always another chance. The whole process will be seriously abused,” she said, adding that it also comes with time and cost implications.