By: Patience Ahimbisibwe
Kampala: A total of 8.9 million pupils have not completed primary education in the last seven years, a figure equivalent to the country’s primary school enrolment, Education statistics show.
Ms Rose Nassali Lukwago, the Education ministry’s permanent secretary, while at the sector’s 20th annual performance review, said primary school enrolment had increased by 0.6per cent from 8.33 million pupils in 2012 to 8.39 million children this year.
Although the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) has been reporting an increasing number of P7 candidates in the past years, their figure is much less than the pupils who first enrolled on the programme in Primary One.
For example, Uneb reported that only 582,085 pupils registered for the 2013 PLE exams out of 1.83 million children who registered in Primary One in 2007 translating to 68 per cent dropout rate.
In 2012, out of the 1.7 million pupils who joined P1 in 2006 across the country dropped to 564,804 candidates who later registered with the Uneb. This means 68 per cent of the pupils who enrolled had dropped out of school, married early, died or repeated some classes along the way. However, Ms Lukwago said P7 completion rates declined by 7per cent from 67per cent in 2011/12 to 60 in 2012/13.
Although Mr Yusuf Nsubuga, the director basic education, admits that primary completion rate is low, he says 63 per cent of a generation reaches P7. He said efficiency in resource usage devoted to primary is undermined by high repetition and dropout rates.
“In the Ugandan education system, 37 per cent of a generation never reaches P7. The primary completion rate is low, affecting access rates for the subsequent cycles,” Mr Nsubuga said. “Although almost every child enrolls in P1, only 63 per cent of a generation reaches P7. Just 49 per cent enter lower secondary and ultimately, only 10 per cent reach S6,” he added.
He said half of new entrants in P1 are above six years, adding that late entrance on this scale implies that a majority of pupils are “average throughout their school career”, thus increasing the probability of dropout due to rising opportunity costs of education with age.
The government boasts of high school enrolment since the introduction of Universal Primary Education.
However, critics argue that there is nothing to be happy about when more than half of the children leave school before attaining basic education.