A prominent professor from the Faculty of Education Sciences at the University of Helsinki in Finland has put forth a significant recommendation for the education system in Uganda.
Professor Hannele Niemi, who also holds the UNESCO Chair on Education Eco-systems for Equity and Quality and Learning, suggested that Ugandan schools should consider implementing automatic promotions for students.
Appearing before the Education Policy Review Commission in Kampala, Prof. Niemi emphasized that such a move would alleviate the immense pressure placed on learners by parents and schools to achieve top grades, shifting the focus to acquiring essential skills and knowledge.
Under this proposal, both school and national-level assessments would serve as tools for identifying individual learners’ weaknesses and devising strategies to help them improve.
Prof. Niemi stated, “When there are national standards, the desire for high scores arises. Assessment should guide students on where they can enhance their abilities rather than leading to repeated classes or dropping out, as it often does. Such a system obstructs students’ progress.”
She further added, “Frequent class repetition or dropout should not be seen as a student’s failure but as a failure of the education and assessment system. It’s crucial to identify students’ weaknesses early and provide them with the necessary support. Many times, poor performance results from a lack of help or support from home.”
Mr. Hasadu Kirabira, the chairperson of the National Private Education Institutions Association in Uganda (MPEIA), acknowledged the existing pressure on students to excel but suggested that the implementation of automatic promotion should involve thorough consultations with various stakeholders.
Mr. Dan Odongo, the executive director of the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb), opined that automatic promotion is viable as long as adequate learning has taken place at each level.
He stressed the importance of ensuring that students have acquired the necessary competencies before advancing to the next grade.
In regard to homework, Prof. Niemi highlighted the importance of parents providing guidance rather than doing the homework for their children. She argued that when parents complete their children’s homework, the children miss out on valuable learning opportunities.
Ms. Bernadette Nambi, the deputy director of the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), explained that homework is designed by schools but should align with the curriculum. She emphasized the need to ensure that the curriculum is taught as described.
The experts also recommended increased communication between parents and schools, the incorporation of career guidance into the curriculum, and involving parents in curriculum design, among other strategies.