Kibuku District has taken the unconventional step of mandating pupils who scored below 200 marks in the four subjects to repeat Primary Six, contrary to the government’s policy of automatic promotion under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program.
This decision, enforced by the District Council’s Health and Education Committee, aims to address the district’s high failure rates, which reached 31.5 percent in the 2023 PLE results. Out of 5,151 candidates, only 76 passed, prompting concerns about the efficacy of mass-class promotion policies.
Mr. Augustine Moleka Majanga, the committee’s secretary, highlighted the detrimental effects of automatic promotion, noting that many pupils progressing to Primary Seven lack fundamental literacy skills. He emphasized that the automatic promotion policy has contributed to poor academic outcomes and echoed concerns raised by Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) Executive Director Mr. Dan Odongo regarding districts with high failure rates.
The decision to require a repeat of Primary Six for underperforming pupils has been met with mixed reactions from stakeholders. While some argue that it will enhance educational standards, others stress the need for increased government funding to UPE schools to improve performance.
Calls for policy review have also been made, with Mr. Majanga advocating for a reassessment of mass-class automatic promotion policies, citing their adverse impact on rural districts’ educational outcomes. He pointed to a 2017 report commissioned by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), which criticized automatic promotions for hindering weak learners’ improvement and compromising the evaluation process.
Addressing concerns about the automatic promotion policy, Education Minister and First Lady Ms. Janet Museveni announced intentions to abolish the policy during the PLE results release on January 25. The move aims to reduce the number of ungraded candidates and address issues of minimum skills and competencies.
As Kibuku District grapples with its educational challenges, the decision to enforce P6 repeats underscores the complexities and debates surrounding educational policies and their impact on academic outcomes.