Traditional schools across the country have maintained last year’s cut-off points even when the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) reported a decline in performance in last year’s Senior Four national examinations.
For instance, Gayaza High School maintained their entry cut-off points at Aggregate 13 for best done eight subjects while Mt St Mary’s Namagunga and King’s College Budo will also take, just as last year, students with Aggregate 12 respectively.
But some schools have lowered their entry cut-off points. For instance, the Makerere College School director of studies, Mr Andrew Isabirye, said majority of their applicants didn’t perform as well as the previous intake, which has forced the school to drop its entry cut-off by one point.
Mr Patrick Bale Bakka, the head teacher of King’s College Budo, explained that despite the decline in performance in the 2016 Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams compared to the previous year, the demand for vacancy at his school has continued to rise, making the entry cut-off points stiff.
“While performance seems to go down, the demand here increases every year, and what we have to play with is the cut-off points,” Mr Bakka said in an interview.
While releasing the UCE exams results, Mr Daniel Odongo, the Uganda National Examinations Board executive secretary, reported poor performance in English Language, Mathematics, and science subjects.
“There was a slight drop in performance in 2016 compared to 2015, with the percentage pass levels for all science subjects dropping. The worst performed science subject is Physics,” Mr Odongo said.
Although government has been prioritising the study of the sciences, the scores in the 2016 UCE exams performance poses a challenge for schools to match science combination for most of the students who wish to pursue the sciences at high school.
But Trinity College Nabbingo’s head teacher, who doubles as Secondary School head teachers’ Association chairperson, said the challenge in matching the combinations will only be problematic for students who scored passes.
“Where a candidate has scored Credit Six in a science subject, the schools should try and give them a science combination that can lead to their career aspirations,” Ms Kikomeko said.
The Bukomero SS head teacher, Mr Wilson Nsubuga, admitted that some schools, including his, are struggling to get students unlike the popular traditional schools such as Gayaza, which get many applicants.
While opening a two-day Senior Five selection exercise yesterday, Education and Sports minister Janet Museveni, assured the head teachers she will ensure she restores hope in the teaching profession. She added that while government is pushing for the study of sciences, it doesn’t mean they have ignored the humanities.
“Government would like to see teaching methodology that promotes better appreciation of concepts and use of the sciences in solving real-life challenges,” Ms Museveni said.
“That is not to say that we abandon the arts and humanities; because they are also important, but in order to overcome many of our bottlenecks in developing economies, we will be required to invest more and faster in scientific and technological advancement.”
She appealed to teacher training institutions to nurture teachers who are patriotic, selfless, parental, honest, diligent and will require minimum supervision to do their work. On the issue of school fees, Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry’s permanent secretary, asked the head teachers to charge their clients a fee that will not scare them away from school.
Reported by Patience Ahimbisibwe, Damali Mukhaye, David Mafabi & Joseph Kato