Results of last year’s Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) were released this week by Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) showing very little change in terms of regional performance.
However, despite the fact that the region has enjoyed political stability since President Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986.
Busoga region recorded 15, 851 pupils in Division U or Ungraded which means that they failed. This represents 23 percent of the total number of ungraded pupils – the highest number of failures in the country.
The region was also disappointing when it came to first grades. It recorded a miserable 3900 in Division one representing just 6.3% of the total number of students who passed with first grades countrywide.
Busoga’s PLE performance must be seen as disappointing in comparison with other regions such as Northern Uganda that spent close to two decades in camps at the hands of the Lords Resistance Army insurgence.
Acholi and Lango districts performed better than Busoga on percentage terms. The region had 5,648 pupils in Division U representing 8.2 percent. Northern Uganda (Acholi and Lango) also recorded almost the same number of first grades (3,168) compared to Busoga’s 3,900 first grades.
One Geoffrey Kawanguzi, a radio presenter at Bambu FM in Jinja argued that delayed payment of teachers salaries greatly contributed to absenteeism in most schools.
“Most teachers in Busoga have become permanent residents and no longer teach. They are not transferred as they used to and they now engage in other businesses such as buying sugarcanes and maize, neglecting their primary responsibilities,” said Kawanguzi.
Kawanguzi also blamed negligent parents who send their pupils on empty stomachs. There is fear however that the increased production of sugar canes in the place of food has greatly contributed to malnutrition and hunger in Busoga sub-region, leading to falling grades. Many experts now agree poor education performance is a sign of malnutrition.
Others however blame the poor state of infrastructures, particularly the lack of classrooms leading many pupils to suffer diseases such as jiggers and flue arising from dust.
At the national level, UNEB recorded overall better performance this year compared to last year. For example, 10.4% pupils passed in DIV one compared to 9.4% in 2013.
UNEB secretary Matthew Bukenya revealed that out of the total 604,971 candidates who registered for last year’s PLE exams, 78% were UPE beneficiaries.
Bukenya however further noted that 58,000 candidates failed their PLE exams while results for 1,344 candidates were withheld pending investigation.