KAMPALA: Hillside Nursery and Primary School, Naalya, emerged as the best performing primary school in the country supposedly, with over 130 candidates scoring ‘4s’ in the 2020 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). The school continues with its celebrations despite reservations from a section of the Ugandan public.
The above school, privately owned, has become the envy of its competitors especially those in the central region districts of Kampala and Wakiso. The schools and concerned Ugandans think Hillside Nursery and Primary School is benefiting via a syndicate where it buys sets of PLE examinations from corrupt UNEB officials for its pupils to revise as they approach examinations time.
In short, the school’s star performance has question marks, given that last year it only managed to have only 22 candidates who scored ‘4’ aggregates in four subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
Interestingly, Hillside Nursery and Primary School, registered 133 candidates with aggregate 4, out the 642 ‘4s’ registered throughout the country, while Hormisdallen Primary School, Wakiso, which was second, had a total of 98 ‘4s’. As you read ahead you will see that this number is far far higher than last year’s PLE scores.
According to analysts, out of the total number of candidates that scored aggregate ‘4’ countrywide, the two schools alone raised 229 ‘4s’, posting a combined score of 35.6 percent. Does this mean other schools- 14,298 of 14,300 schools that participated in 2020 PLE didn’t teach their primary seven pupils well as they shared 64.4 percent? Also consider the fact that a total of 749,761 candidates registered for PLE in 2020 compared to 695,804 candidates in 2019.
Over 50 schools appeal to UNEB to remark exams
Actually about 50 primary schools mainly from Kampala and Wakiso districts have appealed to UNEB to remark their pupils’ papers as they don’t believe they performed poorly. The appeals process closed last Friday. “We think that we were under marked. We finished the syllabus as expected. Some schools are teaching exams but not full syllabus as provided by the National Development Curriculum Centre,” said a headmaster from one of the traditional government-owned primary schools in Kampala.
“The total number of candidates that scored aggregate 4, from the 26th to the 141st school, in this category, in comparison with Hillside, is way, too below, as it only stands at 185, representing a percentage score of 28.8%,” argues an analyst, urging UNEB bosses to look into the matter without delay.
Comparing Hillside Nursery and Primary School and Hormisdallen Primary School 2019 and 2020 PLE results raises questions
Out of the 479 registered ‘4s’, in the 2019 PLE results, the two schools, that is, Hillside Primary School, Naalya and Hormisdallen Primary School, Wakiso, registered only 33 4s, of which Hillside had 22 and Hormisdallen 11, adding up to only 33 ‘4’s as already indicated out of the countrywide total number of candidates with aggregate ‘4’. “This represents a percentage score of 6.1%, as compared to the 35.6% percentage score of the two schools in the 2020 results,” says an analysts, who says there is foul play somewhere within UNEB officials in connivance with school administrators and headmasters.
UNEB staff speaks out
An internal source from UNEB told this news website that UNEB officials who are in charge of the printery at Kyambogo connive with school administrators and headmasters where the latter pay hundreds of millions of shillings to access various PLE examinations sets. “There is a gentleman at the printery at Kyambogo who sells PLE examination sets to private primary and secondary schools,” the UNEB source told this news website, adding that UNEB top bosses sit at the agency’s headquarters in Ntinda so they find it hard to supervise those running the printery at Kyambogo.
The source further said former staff who was not interested in selling examinations at the UNEB printery was fired due to intrigue. He was replaced by the other who is fond of selling the examinations sets to the schools.
UNEB withholds results of small rural schools as scapegoat
Another source within UNEB said that the officials there who are involved in selling examination sets as well as investigations intentionally withhold results of small rural schools as a scapegoat to hoodwink the public that indeed they are serious at doing their work. “Why can’t they withhold results of Hillside Primary School to see if all those pupils who got ‘4’ deserved that score,” he said, adding that, “It is an irony for UNEB officials to go for small schools in rural areas and leave out big ones that cheat through buying PLE examination sets.”
Need for govt to begin tracking performance of students in higher classes
A section of concerned members of the public who are not convinced with the good performance of candidates who rely on revising exams are of the view that government through the Ministry of Education begin tracking the performance of the pupils in next classes so as to establish whether they are indeed sharp as portrayed in PLE, UCE and UACE examination results. “A certain school in Kampala has had issues with pupils admitted with “4” aggregates. They end up performing poorly in academics. They are spoon-fed.”
One teacher, teaching in a powerful government primary school, while commenting Hillside’s results said: “We are as qualified as teachers of Hillside Nursery and Primary School. We are supposed to teach and complete the same syllabus on the same time. For Hillside to have over 130 “4s”, there is need for an inquiry.”
He further suggested that the Ministry of Education and Sports should set a special exam to randomly test a section of pupils from Hillside to find out the truth, otherwise “this was an exam fraud of the highest order” he lamented.
A senior official in the Ministry of Education’s primary education section when contacted to comment on the performance of Hillside Nursery and Primary School in 2020 PLE examinations said: “We are also wondering whether that school’s performance is genuine.”
“Hillside, for example, registered 57 candidates with aggregate 4, in 2018, 22, in 2019, and then, all of a sudden, 133, in the just released results? For goodness sake, what kind of performance curve is this?
Precisely, according to UNEB, what kind of performance curve, takes this shape?
So, according to UNEB, what is it that special thing was done by Hillside, and, of course, Hormisdallen, that was not done by Kabojja Junior, Greenhill Academy, Kampala Parents’, St. Savio, Gayaza Junior, Global Junior, Namagunga Boarding, and all those other schools, in this category?
Still, according to UNEB, why/how does Hormisdallen, register 47 candidates with aggregate 4, in 2018, then the number tremendously drops to only 11, in 2019, and, from nowhere, the number sporadically shoots up again, to 98?
Secondary schools also involved in buying exams
But it is not only primary schools involved in buying national examination sets for their candidates. Many secondary schools in Kampala and Wakiso are also culprits. This news website will not for now mention such cheating schools. But a teacher from one of a leading private school told this news website that it has a habit of buying UCE examination sets for its candidates to revise for the purposes of passing with high grades.
UNEB bosses should resign!
Other analysts are of the view that UNEB Secretary Dr Dan Odongo and those under him like Dr. Kedreth Turyagyenda should resign not walk away scorch free. UNEB Chairperson Prof. Mary Okwakol must also take keen interest in analysing the UCE results especially for the so-called best performing schools.