60% of pupils can’t read – govt report


Kampala- A new government report has accused teachers of training learners for only passing exams instead of equipping them with interpersonal, critical and vocational skills to deal with real life situations.

The Monitoring Learning Achievement of Primary Two in Literacy report indicates that almost six in every 10 primary school-going children assessed are unable to read.

The findings by the Directorate of Education Standards (DES) say other competences were also only partially achieved with interpretation and writing skills not faring any better.

“This means that children are promoted to the next class when they have acquired only 50 per cent of the required competences hence learners lose out on the content and eventually get into the upper classes without fully learning the basic competences,” the report states.

“For a very long time, learning has been focusing on a teacher with less emphasis on a learner. The global trends today dictate that education systems must shift from the mastery of facts, to learning to be; learning to do; learning to live and learning to know. Analysis of performance per district indicated that reading still remains a big challenge,” the report adds.

The survey shows that the average performance in reading competence ranges from a lowly score of only 26 to 46 per cent.

The exercise was conducted at the end of second term of 2016 in government-aided primary schools with 106,296 Primary One and Two pupils assessed in listening, reading, matching, interpreting, and writing competences. The assessors also considered knowledge, comprehension and application skills.

The exercise was conducted by head teachers and assisted by their teachers who marked the scripts and were expected to use the results in management meetings to aid the debate on solutions that best suit them.

Ms Frances Atima, the principal inspector at DES, warned in an interview yesterday that if the situation is not addressed early enough, learners will continue to be promoted without the competences which will affect their performance at the end of the primary education cycle.

“There is a problem in the teaching process. The curriculum is not adequately covered and if children have not achieved the basic competences, it means they will not be able to answer questions and we will continue to register poor results,” Ms Atima said.

She said disseminating of the research results have been limited by lack of funds.
Ms Atima’s concerns were echoed by the teachers’ representatives who wondered why they were not given any feedback on their performance and questioned the motive of the study.

Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, the Uganda National Teachers’ Union chairperson, yesterday said their supervisors’ findings should be shared to benefit every stakeholder in order to achieve the intended results.

Reacting to the teachers’ concerns, he said: “Teachers today leave colleges and join the profession without getting refresher courses. We used to meet tutors from primary teachers colleges annually to discuss their challenges in the field. There would be demonstrations to help the teachers be better. All this has not happened in more than 10 years now.”

The pupils performed well in listening, scoring 67.8 per cent, but dropping to 42 per cent in reading, with comprehension also remaining a challenge with only 48 per cent average score.

However, in listening and comparisons, all the regions were rated above average with Kigezi coming top at 87 per cent. But in interpreting, only three of the 13 sub-regions surveyed scored slightly above 50 per cent with the rest getting below the average mark.

Teso stood at 36 per cent average, Bukedi 37 per cent, West Nile 46 per cent while Kigezi stood at 43 per cent. More than half of the pupils in Elgon, Bukedi and Teso were unable to write.

Ankole and Buganda sub-regions performed better, posting an average score of 54 per cent and 55 per cent in reading respectively, while Bukedi, Elgon, Kigezi, Teso and West Nile did not achieve the required competences.
Teso tailed the rate card with only 27 per cent average score followed by Bukedi with 28 per cent.


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