Authorities in Oyam district are concerned over the poor performance of pupils.
In the last Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), Oyam district registered 789 candidates. However, only 23 passed in first grade, 284 in second grade, 175 in third grade, and 137 in fourth grade. 162 candidates were in division U while 8 candidates did not show up for exams. This accounted for 20.5 percent failure.
This poor performance has been attributed to numerous challenges ranging from over-enrollment, limited funding, poor infrastructures, and inadequate manpower. Currently, the classroom-pupil ratio stands at 1:128, the desk-pupil ratio is at 1:11 while teacher to pupil ratio stands at 1: 125.
The district is also grappling with high absenteeism among learners. A survey conducted by the Education stakeholders within the district shows that 22 out of 100 pupils are always absent from school.
Odyesseus Awany, a retired primary school head teacher believes that performance has dropped especially in government schools because teachers are occupying learners instead of teaching.
According to Awany, the COVID-19 Pandemic worsened the performance when schools remained closed for two years, adding that there was no need for automatic promotion.
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Taking an example of a primary school in Oyam where he is part-timing as a P.7 class teacher, Awany wondered why schools have poor infrastructures like classrooms blocks, broken desks, and lack textbooks for learners yet such schools also receive Universal Primary Education Funds.
He believes that there is connivance between head teachers and district leadership to swindle the money sent for the development of the schools, which affects learning.
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Felix Obongo, the head teacher Atapara secondary school blames the current economic hardship for the poor performance, saying that teachers focus more on making money instead of teaching well.
“What drives the teachers to look for schools to go and teach in, is the need to make ends meet so when they go there, what is core is the money that they want to get out of the school but not the work that they are supposed to do,” Obongo said.
He suggests that there should be benchmarking among poor and best-performing schools so that they can learn from each other. “We can actually use benchmarking, we identify a school which has excellent performance and we invite some people from such schools or we make an appointment to visit such a school then we find out together with them what is it that they do differently which we should emulate and do here so that performance improves," he said.
Rose Alok, the head teacher of Minakulu primary school, says that since most schools have high enrollment with few teachers, assessing learners and helping them understand might be challenging thus resulting in poor performance.
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David Adea, the District Inspector of Schools, says that the high absenteeism among learners and high enrollment, which stresses the infrastructures and lack of funding is to blame for the poor performance.
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In 1997, the NRM government introduced Universal Primary Education to allow free access to education for four children per family. However, most schools usually agree with parents for some additional contribution to school development.