Govt dispatches team to Nakaseke to investigate teachers exams

Govt dispatches team to Nakaseke to investigate teachers exams
RDC ordered exams for Nakaseke teachers.

Nakaseke, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | A recent incident in Nakaseke has sparked concern among parliamentarians, prompting calls for government intervention. The district chairperson, Ignatius Kiwanuka Koomu, made headlines after subjecting primary school teachers to exams.

On Wednesday, March 13, 2024, under Mr. Koomu’s directive, Primary Seven (P.7) mock exams were administered to teachers from schools that had performed poorly in the 2023 Primary Leaving Exams (PLE).

The surprise decision undertaken by the district leadership follows abysmal performance in the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results released earlier in January.

The PLE results for Nakaseke revealed a concerning trend: 604 candidates (12.9%) achieved first division, while 2,706 candidates (57.9%) secured second division.

Additionally, 728 candidates (15.6%) attained third division, and 361 candidates (7.7%) fell into Division Four.

Disturbingly, 276 candidates (5.6%) failed, with 138 candidates (2.9%) not sitting the examinations out of 4,813 registered candidates in 2023.

Several schools emerged as particularly problematic, with Kagando Mixed Primary School, Kikamulo C/U, Timuna P/S, and St Steven Standard P/S among those with high failure rates.

Reacting to these results, Ignatius Koomu, the LCV Chairperson of Nakaseke, instructed the Education Department to subject teachers from 15 poorly performing schools to competence tests.

Subsequently, these teachers underwent mock examinations at Nakaseke Technical Institute to assess their subject knowledge and teaching competency, mirroring the 2023 pupil examinations.

Koomu attributed the students’ poor performance to potential teacher incompetence and emphasised the district’s commitment to ensuring student success.

In response to shifting blame onto teachers by headteachers, the district plans to administer PLE to teachers next year and take disciplinary action against those who fail.

Consequences for failing teachers include demotion and possible referral to the Rewards and Sanctions Committee. Headteachers of schools with over 10% PLE failure rates also face demotion.

The issue was brought to light by Allan Mayanja (NUP, Nakaseke Central) during parliamentary proceedings. Mayanja detailed the grievances of the teachers and highlighted the uncertainty surrounding their future.

“Some teachers are approaching me saying they are being disrespected, they need to know what will follow after the exam. Will the recommendations be given to the District Service Commission or the Public Service Commission for promotion or demotion?,” asked Mayanja during the plenary sitting chaired by Speaker, Anita Among, on Friday 15 March 2024.

Mayanja said that teachers are wondering why such an examination does not apply to other districts and are thus seeking answers from the Ministry of Education and Sports.

Speaker Among called for immediate action from government as she questioned such a method used to improve performance.

“We need an explanation, is that the best way to improve on performance? There are several causes of why children fail, such as the delayed payment of teachers, teachers who live far from schools and there is no induction for most of the teachers,” said Among.

She further observed that it was unfair to assess primary one teachers and primary seven teachers using the same standard.

“After marking, all of them may even fail. What is the way forward, is it a policy that has just come? Teachers are disgruntled [and] they do not want to go to school, they need answers,” Among added.

Asuman Basalirwa (Jeema, Bugiri Municipality) said that local governments under the decentralisation arrangement have liberty to come up with policies to improve academic performance and asked that the education ministry educate the public on such provisions.

Also Read: Six teachers remanded to Luzira prison over ‘leaked’ exams

Dickson Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) on the other hand said the Nakaseke district chairperson’s efforts to improve education should be commended, cognizant of the degenerating quality of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) system.

“I would commend his decision because it has ignited the debate on why our children are failing PLE. We need to engage him and the district to further understand the drivers of poor performance,” Kateshumbwa said.

The Minister of State for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo, said he was equally shocked by the news and had deployed an investigative team to Nakaseke district.

“A team has been dispatched to Nakaseke district to study the decision and a report will be presented to the House,” said Muyingo.