The Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB did not register a single candidate from three districts for the 2020 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education Examinations.
According to records, the affected district include Nabilatuk and Nakapiriti from the Karamoja sub-region and Madi Okollo from West Nile.
Although UNEB had a general report on likely causes that impeded several students from turning up for the examinations , they didn’t establish what could have happened in the three districts.
When asked about the matter, the Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataha Museveni says that the learners from the three districts could have gone to other districts given the fact that many areas in Uganda don’t have a secondary school.
“Some of these districts are in the Karamoja region which has its unique problems. There might be no schools (she assumed) but there is a likelihood that students from those districts moved to other districts where they could access education,” Ms Museveni said.
She admitted that many areas in Uganda don’t have a secondary school despite the government promises to have a school in each sub-county.
Available information indicates that Nabilatuk has three Secondary schools, Nakapiriti as well has been registering candidates at all levels of education.
Madi Okollo until 2019 was part of the Arua district and information from the district officials indicate that there are six government secondary schools some of which are hosting refugee students. However, only one, Okollo SS, admits A-level students.
Dorothy Anguparu, the District Information Officer, says besides the lack of A-level schools, that the district has low school enrollment from primary and they keep on dropping out.
Anguparu says that a few students who break the barrier and reach Advanced Level often migrate to stay and study in Arua town where they expect to get a better education. She, however, adds that the existing factors coupled with the effects of COVID19 might have worsened the situation as many learners, at all levels, didn’t return to school.
Although UNEB indicates that no candidates from the area, authorities insist that they had one candidate who sat for the examination from Okollo SS, although information on the whereabouts of the candidate is scanty.
However, there is a possibility that the school couldn’t register or transferred the candidate to nearby districts, given the fact that UNEB requires a certain minimum of learners at a given centre.
Ronald Higenyi, the Deputy Headteacher of Namalu Seed Secondary School, in Nakapiriti says very few students within the district apply for admission to senior five. For instance, Higenyi points out that although the school passed out 40 senior four students in 2019, none of them returned for A-level admission.
He says they managed to admit only six students in senior five but all were brought from other regions by the teachers reportedly to set an example to the local students. The said six were from as far as central and northern Uganda in districts like Gulu and Lira.
Although some students move to other regions for better education after O’Level, Alice Amei, the Nabilatuk District Education Officer, says many actually dropout of school with a few preferring to pursue alternative education like in teachers’ colleges and vocational institutions.
“The problem has a cocktail of causes, unavailability of schools, and the social aspects. But, by and large, many students and parents in the area are yet to understand the value of higher education,” says Amei.
Generally, districts in Karamoja posted low candidates for the UACE exams. For instance; Abim had 47 candidates, Amudat 15, Kaabong 27, Kotido 41 and Napak with only 16 who were all male.
Districts outside of Karamoja that had low candidate registration are; Buvuma (10), Kaberamiado (23), Butebo (32), Apac (33), Kalangala (43) among others.