Former Bridge International Schools Country boss, Morrison Rwakakamba has urged parents whose kids performed poorly in the 2018 Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) to direct their anger at school administrators instead of the National Examinations Body, UNEB.
Rwakakamba, who spoke as a parent to BBC radio on Friday morning, said the “Education sector is rebalancing and this is a good thing” after it emerged that top schools such as Kampala Parents School which charge an arm and leg in fees were defeated by rural-based schools.
“For the first time, we are seeing distributive progress and a narrowing achievement gap in regard to grades posted by kids of well-to-do parents’ kids and kids of parents who are less wealthy,” said Rwakakamba.
He further said “parents in elite city schools who max up a pay of USD 500 per child per term are rightly angry – their kids attended Early childhood education (nursery), they wake up 4:00 am and drop their kids at school by 6:00 am – they expected Steller grades – a deserved return on investment.”
Some of the parents of pupils at the struggling Kampala Parents School and Kabojja stormed the education institutions to demand an explanation for the poor grades.
The parents expressed bitterness they would lose out slots in top secondary schools.
Rwakakamba said the parents “should be angry – but where should they direct their anger? It should be at the school administrators’ and teachers and not at the Examination body UNEB.”
Rwakakamba who previously served as a Presidential Advisor on Charge of Research, said under the leadership of Minister and First Lady Janet Museveni and Executive Secretary Dan Odong – UNEB has transformed, become more efficient and transparent.
“Now index numbers of candidates and center numbers of schools are encrypted while marking exams. There is no way examiners can know which pupil or school they are marking,” said Rwakakamba.
“This innovation has made the system cheat proof! Schools can no longer game the system!”
UNEB recently introduced what is known as Education Management Information System (EMIS) whereby every school had a six-digit code.
“This system anonymised schools and candidates by removing identifiable information from the examination script. Only useful information about the candidate was maintained for marks and assessment,” said Odong in an interview with ChimpReports this week.
He said this was to deal with “human nature” whereby some examiners “naturally feel pressure while dealing with top schools. This addresses the halo effect.”
The halo effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person or entity influences our evaluation.
“Some examiners would feel some pressure when marking top schools. But by removing the centre numbers, the examiner doesn’t know which schools they are dealing with. To free the markers from such tension, we decided to introduce EMIS which worked very well,” said Odong.
Rwakakamba said in the periphery and rural, beyond the governments’ Universal Primary education, kids pay as little as $7 USD per term but are now performing well.
For example Bridge Schools that have again for the second year running posted great results max up at USD 40.
Nyakyibale Parents Primary school in Rukungiri had its all 50 candidates in First Grade.
“This is 400kms from Kampala. There is a reason for this progress,” he said.
The 2018 PLE results will most likely compel parents to think twice about spending large sums of money on elite Kampala-based primary schools yet schools tucked far away from Kampala city centre provide reliable good grades for their kids.
Kabojja Junior, a prominent school with a long record of pupils passing with flying colours, had none with aggregate 4. Only three of its 252 pupils obtained aggregate 5.
Interestingly, Green Circle Primary School in Fort Portal, western Uganda, had 10 kids with aggregate 4. Bright Grammar School deep in Masaka had eight kids with aggregate four.
In Mbale, Nkokonjeru Primary School had eight pupils with aggregate four. Global Junior in School in Mukono Municipality had eight pupils with aggregate four.
Rwakakamba said government and the Private sector are driving these gains.
“Government is emphasizing quality and expanding school inspection efforts to ensure learning happens,” he observed.
“Private sector is investing in schools – not just building schools and running them but also investing in enablers. Look at companies like Fenix International that have for the past few years, electrified half million off grid households allowing kids extended time to read, practice and solve academic problems. It’s all round. Now families can live and raise their kids in any part of the Country without worries. The journey to inclusive growth is on,” he added.
Going forward, Rwakakamba said elite schools will require to “re-imagine themselves. Elite parents with more voice and convening power will now be keen on demanding inclusive education and achievement in all schools.”