Ugandan children are only learning to pass exams: Report

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Ugandan children are only learning to pass exams: Report
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The Association of School Inspectors has reported that a significant portion of Ugandan primary school children are not genuinely learning but are instead being coached solely to pass exams.

The finding revealed during a three-day meeting of school inspectors comes from a recent school performance assessment, which highlights a critical issue within the country's education system.

Mary Frances Atima, the Head of Directorate of Education Standards at the Ministry of Education and Sports said the study assessed the quality of teaching and learning, management, preparation for teachers and other areas in the school settings

“What has come out very vividly is that learning is still very low. Some of the elements leading to low learning were also clearly brought out, including the quality of teaching, and preparation of teachers is also problematic. If there is no proper teaching in the classroom and there is no learning, then you do not expect a good learning outcome,” Atima said.

The report shows that 64 out of 100 primary school learners are being taught to navigate exams rather than to understand and engage with the educational material.

Patrick Olwit, the Lira District Inspector of Schools who also doubles as the general secretary for the association of school inspectors, says despite substantial investments in the education sector, this approach has led to a stagnation in genuine learning outcomes, with the learning output standing at a dismal 36 percent.

The poor learning outcome has been attributed to competition for better grades and performances, coupled by the mushrooming number of private schools seeking to attract more learners

“Assessment had very high scores. Nearly every district had high marks. No district was below 80 percent. We have moved away from focus, most schools have gone away from the right focus, and many people are now exam oriented. They are looking at only passing children. Every school wants to make a name,” says Olwit.

Olwit warns that this approach not only undermines the quality of education but also affects the country's future workforce.

“We can not be satisfied and proud of the assessment results that are being done perfectly all the time. That we know it is sugar-coated, and that is not the direction we want to go. Teachers should first teach and make children understand,” Olwit said.

This report by the Association of School inspectors sheds light on the systemic issues within Ugandan schools, where the pressure to produce high exam scores has diverted attention from comprehensive education.

Teachers are reportedly under immense pressure to ensure students perform well in assessments, leading to a teaching methodology centred on note learning and memorization.

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