Govt bans entry exams for Primary One pupils

Govt bans entry exams for Primary One pupils

By Taddeo Bwambale
Pupils joining Primary One will no longer be required to sit for entry exams at all government and private schools, the education ministry has announced.

The move is an attempt to get rid of a culture of endless tests and exams at lower levels of learning in favour of developing learners’ competences. 

The directive was part of a long-list of reform measures adopted by the ministry at the closure of a two-day 14th Education and Sports Sector Review Meeting in Kampala.

The meeting, held under the theme: ‘Quality and Relevant Education for Social Economic Transformation: The Role of Key Stakeholders,’ was meant to assess milestones, weaknesses and reform areas required to deliver quality education.

The ban on entry exams for pre-primary (nursery school-going children) follows findings by the ministry and partners that the quality of education at that level was wanting.

Aggrey Kibenge, the education ministry’s undersecretary said government would instead focus on training nursery teachers (caregivers) to use better methods of instruction and assessment of learners.

Government provides free education at primary and secondary schools as well as scholarships and loans for students at vocational and university institutions.

A proposal to provide free education at pre-primary level (nursery) has previously been shelved over the budget implications and calls for government to focus more on quality of existing interventions.

Government had initially planned to introduce nursery schools in all public primary schools. Nursery schools are largely owned by private players, many of whom are driven by economic motives.

Studies show that a child’s first five years of life play a critical role in shaping their cognitive, behavioral and personality traits.

A low level of learning outcomes would guarantee that pupils joining primary school are unable to meet key competencies beyond reading and writing, which are the commonest forms assessment.   

In recent months, the education ministry has embarked on massive training of teachers at all levels under a $100m (sh354b) grant provided by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an international organisation that supports education in the world’s poorest countries.

Part of the three-year project involves training nursery teachers in more appropriate models of teaching and assessing young learners.

The ministry is set to issue a circular to schools highlighting the aspects of the reforms in instruction and assessment of learners in nursery school.

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