Hoima’s Budaka Primary School: The Plight of the Solitary PLE Hopeful
In a government aided school in Hoima City, a concerning situation has arisen, as only one candidate is set to sit for the Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) next week. This single candidate, Kenneth Wembabazi, stands alone in the final year of his primary education journey, out of an initial group of four Primary Seven pupils. The unexpected departure of the other three pupils has left the school’s head, Mr. Joseph Bahemuka, deeply concerned.
Mr. Bahemuka highlighted the gravity of having at least one registered PLE candidate, as the school holds a Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) center number. Failing to register a candidate in a given year jeopardizes their center number, which could negatively impact lower-class pupils.
To maintain their Uneb center number, the school is required to have a minimum of 15 candidates. Falling below this threshold results in the revocation of the center number, with the process of reinstatement being arduous. To address this challenge, Mr. Bahemuka approached neighboring schools, securing 44 candidates to be registered under his school’s center number, with only one candidate originating from Budaka Primary School.
Kenneth Wembabazi has faced the challenge of studying independently or occasionally with Primary Six pupils. He and the 44 other candidates registered at the school will be taking their PLE exams at the nearby Kalongo Primary School. This decision arises from the lack of a suitable main hall at their school to accommodate candidates during examinations, which is typically overseen by the school inspector.
The school currently has a total of six teachers on the government payroll and one private teacher paid by parents. However, Mr. Bahemuka stressed the need for an additional two teachers to ensure that each teacher can effectively cover all subjects within their assigned class, preventing any class from being left without a teacher.
Despite these challenges, Kenneth Wembabazi remains resolute in his goal to succeed in the upcoming exams.
The decline in the number of learners at the school can be attributed to early marriages and fierce competition from private schools in neighboring communities. Private schools actively attract the brightest pupils as they reach the upper classes, which has contributed to the persistent decline in enrollment.
Concerned parents, such as Ms. Asaba Kasagaki, have observed that some parents are marrying off their children as young as 14 to 17 years old, precisely the years when pupils should be pursuing their education. This alarming trend is affecting the school’s student population.
Local leaders have also noted that the school’s consistent poor performance over the last decade has prompted parents to seek alternative educational options for their children as they advance through the upper classes. This challenging situation calls for support and attention to ensure the quality of education in Hoima City is upheld.