Nakaseke District LC V Chairperson, Ignatius Koomu has rejected pleas to stay the sanctioning of headteachers whose primary leaving candidates will perform poorly resulting from the prolonged lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2016, the Nakaseke District Council passed a resolution to demote headteachers over poor Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results. The district has since demoted over 30 headteachers over poor performance and failure to meet their annual targets since the council endorsed the administrative action in 2016.

This year, the district wants the schools to ensure that at least 90% of the learners who sit PLE pass. However, some headteachers have asked the District to reconsider the target and postpone the sanctions for the next year on grounds that they may not meet the target because of the prolonged lockdown and chronic absenteeism of learners.

Emmanuel Kizza, the Chairperson of Uganda National Teachers Union in Nakaseke district, says that schools are still struggling to refocus pupils’ attention to studies after spending two years at home without learning. He says that some learners are still split between studies and the economic activities they started during the lockdown.

Kizza says that in such a situation, some learners may not be able to perform as expected, arguing that it will be unfair to sanction the headteachers over their failure. He wants the district council to postpone the sanctions until 2023 when the education sector has normalized.

Gloria Namuli, the Deputy Headteacher of Kibose Church of Uganda Primary School, says that due to the fear of the sanctions, some headteachers may resort to examination malpractices to save their jobs.

Benson Masereka, a teacher at Kibose Church of Uganda Primary School has asked the district council to recruit enough teachers in upper classes before they sanction them over poor performance.

But Ignatius Koomu, the Nakaseke LC V Chairperson insists that the district will enforce the targets as agreed upon by the headteachers and approved by the council that at least 90% of PLE candidates must pass.

He explains that COVID-19 affected learners nationwide and therefore doesn’t see the reason why others will pass and those in Nakaseke fail yet they sit the same exams set by UNEB.

Backed by the district council, Koomu, a retired educationist had resolved to submit the teachers to PLE to test their competency. However, the Education and Sports Ministry stopped the move from protests from the teachers and UNATU.

The council instead resolved to pile pressure on headteachers to supervise teachers and directed them to forward non-performing teachers for disciplinary action. According to the Uganda National Examination Board, Nakaseke district registered a 95 per cent pass rate in 2019 and a 27 per cent increase in PLE performance compared to the past year.

428 representing 9.9 percent out of 4,447 candidates registered by the district for PLE passed in division one, 2,474 (57.3 per cent) passed in division two, while 801 (18.9 per cent) passed in division three. District officials attributed the improvement partly to the pressure exerted on headteachers.

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