Exemplary performance in the Central region
Rural-urban performance gap is wide
The school dropout rate for girls is disturbingly high.
Dismal parental engagement may be contributing to the observed poor performance
Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) and the Ministry of Education and Sports released the 2020 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Educations (UACE) on Friday, August 21, 2021.
Jubilation among students, schools, and parents rent the air as they celebrated excellent results – UACE 2020. In the Central region of the country, in particular, the performance was exemplary.
However, in some regions, it was time to shed tears for the country after a thorough reflection of where we are coming from and where we are going. Where did the schools go wrong?
It is time for stakeholders to come together and review existing teaching and learning competencies both for teachers and learners. There is a need for clear sustainable remedies that shall enable equitable performance with marketable skills for the youth in all districts and regions of Uganda.
We shall therefore not point fingers at each other. Education is not a one-man show. The minister of education, Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni has time and again reiterated the need for excellent performance in our schools. Now what we need to identify are the educational inequalities in Uganda and provide effective and sustainable pedagogical and learning approaches that stage learners in the global market.
Firstly, there was a high level of absenteeism and school dropout. A total of 6084 candidates who registered for the final examinations did not sit. The UNEB chairperson, Prof Mary Okwakol, also expressed her concern that some female candidates missed the examinations due to cases of pregnancies and early marriages.
Parents failed to get school fees and others missed the examinations after private schools failed to reopen and students failed to find alternative UACE centers. This is very disappointing and therefore there is a need to address such mishaps urgently. These learners, having struggled with their parents painfully to pay school fees only for them not to access their final evaluation is heartbreaking.
To check the challenges of absenteeism and high school dropout rates, there is a need for school leaders to strengthen the level of parental engagement so as to follow up with the learners. School administration, need to be trained, empowered and supported using the power of parents and community engagement. School Parents-Teachers’ Associations would form a baseline for School-parent-learner engagement to ensure all learners transit smoothly. Currently, no concern is shown to learners who remain at home when others are in school learning.
It is important to note that, these learners, whether they sit their examinations or not, they remain a part of Uganda’s citizenry. When they are struggling with life, all members of the Ugandan community get affected. One of the goals of education is to eradicate poverty through acquired skills and knowledge. Therefore school-parent collaboration is key to a learner’s sustainability.
It is time for MoES to engage the Association of Secondary Schools Headteachers of Uganda (ASSHU), and introduce the issue of the need for strengthening cordial and functional parenting through training. The suggestions for schools to strengthen their relations with parents could include:
Collect accurate, up-to-date contact information for all parents and communicate regularly through written notifications about school events and pupil information.
Set up a WhatsApp group for all parents to share updates and get feedback from them.
Hold quarterly training sessions for the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) to use the school community more effectively to support the aims of the school.
Develop relationships with parents, work closely with them ensuring their involvement in their child’s learning at school and help parents support children with their learning at home.
Ensure teachers and school leaders are available to meet parents who have any queries or concerns.
KAWA EduQua parenting sessions have created a serious transformation in the relations between schools and parents. Some of the schools which performed well here are great beneficiaries of this Training. The Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni condemns the abhorrent early marriage practice that denies girls the chance to transition smoothly through education:
“When our young people are getting married while still children, it is a sign that the parent or guardian has not fulfilled his or her role in the upbringing of such a child. It worries me when I hear and read about girls dropping out of school. To me, this is a real issue that we should boldly confront as a society,” Janet Museveni said.
Moses Wamanga is a Senior Education Specialist serving as a Team Lead at KAWA Uganda, an innovation and Edtech support organization that provides Professional Development services to enhance learning outcomes for educators and Learners around the country.