About one and a half months ago I read in one of the dailies an advert from Makerere University. The Academic registrar announced that the Pre-Entry Examinations for admission to the Bachelors of Laws for 2016/2017 were to be held on Saturday 16th April, 2016.
The Pre-Entry examinations program is a new development at the Law school and a reminder that students should not labour under the illusion that passing UACE gives you a ticket to do law.
It’s not yet done until it is finally done. Passing the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) under our legendary examining body UNEB no longer means that it’s done, especially if you want to join the club of the ‘learned friends’.
A senior six candidate, for instance, should not slaughter the family’s senior cock because he/she has scored the maximum twenty points in UACE. Such a student should wait and perhaps slaughter the very cock in celebrations after passing the Pre-Entry examinations by the Law school.
Makerere University introduced these examinations in 2012 for any students wishing to persue Bachelor of laws program. Rumour is written on the walls that other traditional degree programs like medicine, engineering and others are also threatening to adopt the same program before students are admitted.
As if this is not enough, other universities are also contemplating on importing the same programs and Uganda Christian University is already on board.
With this craze spreading like wild bush fire, the million dollar question now comes: Where is the future of UNEB? And if that is a friendly question then let’s put it in more aggressive language; where is the relevancy of UNEB with its UACE?
In my tribe we are told that when someone makes you the fourth cooking stone they have simply made you irrelevant. The truth is that only three cooking stones are just enough. Is UNEB aware that it is slowly being rendered useless?
Still if this is a dirty language then we can put it this way; Universities are indirectly showing the public that they no longer have trust in UNEB and I don’t think this is good news.
The argument that has been fielded by Makerere University law school for introducing Pre-Entry examinations is that there was disconnect. That’s, students would come with best grades in UACE but could not cope with the program’s expectations.
Such students could not conceptualize the basics and this meant that there was a possibility of compromising on standards, something the law school was not ready for. Actually none of these universities seems to regret taking that move but instead advise that UNEB should be looking at how best they can make their assessment more credible and trusted by universities.
It seems that UNEB is riding on the back of a wrong horse because universities continue to impinge the examining body by exposing its ineffectiveness in assessing students.
This year it was all in papers that 72 percent, more than half of the students who sat Makerere University’s pre-entry law tests failed to score a minimum of 50 percent to enable them join the institution when it opens for a new academic in August.
But these are the very students that had passed UACE. Out of 1445 students who sat the pre-entry exams only 404 passed with 50 percent and above.
The pre-entry exams seek to test student’s logic, reading, comprehension, language, numerical, general knowledge and analytical writing skills. Unfortunately these are skills that are most ignored while students are in school.
The bone of contention is that while the National curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) draws the teaching curriculum to be followed by teachers, UNEB also draws theirs( usually an extract and a subset of the NCDC’s).
Here UNEB only highlights areas that will be examined. Teachers who target results end up following that of UNEB ignoring main curriculum from NCDC. In this way certain skills are not taught on grounds that UNEB will not examine them.
There is a need for the teachers to go back to the drawing board and teach all the concepts, basics and skills as the NCDC demands. Focusing on the next examination only creates answering robots but not multi skilled students that can pass the pre entry examinations.