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UWEZO REPORT: 32% of learners repeat Primary One

FILE PHOTO: Pupils being taught how to write

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Up to 32 percent of learners repeat Primary One (P1). This is according to the 2019 “Are Our Children Learning” Uwezo Uganda Eight Learning Assessment Report.

The findings from the assessment which was carried out in 954 schools and 16,859 households shows that the rates of repetition are high in P1.

This is followed by P4 at 13.8 percent, P3 with 12.7 percent and P5 at 11.6 percent. In P2 and P6, the repetition rates stand at 10.1 and 10.4 percent respectively. P7 had the least percentage of pupils repeating standing at 2.9 percent.

Dr Maria-Gorretti Nakabugo, the Twaweza Country Lead and Regional Manager Uwezo say that the level of repetition in primary one is caused by the high number of pupils and poorly prepared teachers.

The report also shows that by the time pupils are 12 or 13 years, only small numbers are in P7 or S1. It shows that only 4.1 percent of the learners are in S1 at the age of 13 which is considered the right age to be in the class while 11.7 percent are aged 14 in P7.

The report further shows that only 40 percent of pupils at 14 years old who are in P7 can competently read and understand a given text.

Dr Nakabugo says that over age enrollment is likely to kill a learner’s interest.

According to the report, the no-repeat policy of government is no longer working in schools which has led to repetition of learners in many classes in lower primary.

Patrick Kaboyo, the General Secretary of the Federation of the Non-State Education Institutions says that the policy needs to be scrapped because it is no longer effective.

“The studies today show that the policy is not effective. Learners are repeating classes as early as P1. So, instead of having an ineffective policy, government needs to remove it and look at another way of making sure that all learners are able to achieve the learning that they need,” Kaboyo said.

Dr Kedrace Turyagenda, the director of education standards says that government needs to assess whether there’s a need for a stronger policy against repetition of classes and what needs to be considered.

Dr Turyagenda also adds that the Education Ministry is working towards completing the National Early Childhood Development policy to ensure that all learners in primary one are of the right age.

“ECD facilities in the country are in the hands of the private sector and you find many of them admitting two-year-old children. Such children are bound to fall behind when they reach primary one and as such repeat at the end of the day,” Dr Turyagenda said.

The report recommends that government comes with a policy to provide remedial lessons for all learners who might be over-aged or those showing signs of struggling in both competency and numeracy.

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