By Muhimbise George.
Last week, the Uganda National Examinations Board released PLE results for the year 2022 where 832,654 sat for the exams. Whereas the population is excited about the performance of their children, there is a latent issue that we all seem to have swept under the carpet which in my view needs urgent attention.
According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2021), the enrolment in primary one in the year 2016, stood at 1,888,847 pupils. It is this class that is expected to have sat PLE last year 2022 and that implies that over one million pupils who joined Primary One didn’t seat for PLE last year.
In 2015, 1,842,006 joined Primary one and by the time they reached Primary Seven in 2021, only 749,761 pupils sat for PLE exams meaning that still over a million pupils who had joined Primary one in 2015 did not complete P7 in 2021.
To cut the story shot, in 2013, 1,883,803 joined primary one, by 2014 when they joined primary two, they reduced to 1,349,233, that means over 500,000 did not join primary two, in 2015 when they joined Primary 3, they reduced to 1,283,194 pupils, by the time they joined primary four in 2016, they increased to 1,328,035 and in 2017 when they joined Primary five, they reduced to 1,170,640 pupils and the trend continues.
This trend is worrying and should be looked into by the Ministry of Education; either the Ministry gives us wrong figures or statistics which would imply that the government budgets for ghost pupils and if the figures the ministry gives us are genuine then we need to worry about the rate of drop out!
How can a country have one million children starting Primary one and do not reach primary seven in a space of seven years? What does that signify for our country? What skills and capacity do these one million children have after dropping out of school before completing Primary Seven? What strategy is government putting to address this question?
As the world keeps changing, given the population pressure at 3 percent, and yet land is not increasing besides being exhausted, it is only through quality education that we can secure the future of our children and the country.
To whoever is reading this article, regardless of whether your children are in school, it should be your concern if we have a huge section of the population who haven’t gone to school and have attained no skills because they are a liability to the country.
They will turn into gangs and snatch your iPhone or break the windscreen of your car to steal a laptop, they will be difficult voters who will not listen to your good campaign message and rather want alcohol in exchange for their vote, they will be jealous neighbors in the village who will burn your plantation, they will be hired by your enemies to kidnap your child, they will steal road signs to sell them as scrap hence causing accidents, they will steal bags of cement at your construction site and sell them in the nearby trading center etc.
They will be expensive for government to take care of because they need health care, they will need education for their children yet they pay no taxes to mention but a few. As the saying goes; if a nation can’t protect the many who are poor, it can’t save a few who are rich.
Whereas you might be okay in any position, it should be your concern that there are children who are not going to school. It’s not too late, we can address the gaps in our education system.
The author is a member of Alliance for National Transformation (ANT)
Email: [email protected] Telephone 0787836515.