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Education minister Janet Museveni has said there should be no more pre-registration tests or examinations within public and private schools as candidates prepare for national examinations.
Speaking during the release of 2017 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) results in Kampala yesterday, Ms Museveni said pre-tests denied many candidates a chance of sitting last year’s examinations.
A total of 646,190 candidates from 12, 751 centres registered for PLE in 2017 compared to 640,833 at 12,391 centres in 2016.
“The practice of placing hurdles before these young learners in the form of “pre-registration” tests increases dropouts and should stop immediately,” Ms Museveni said.
“I have noted that the [average] rate of increase in candidature has reduced from over three per cent to just under one per cent. Uneb tried to find out the reasons for this, and what has come out from some districts is unacceptable.”
She said districts must, instead, put in place mechanisms to ensure effective teaching throughout the primary education cycle in order to achieve better PLE results.
In addition to mock examinations, most schools set examinations to sieve learners for registration in their schools. Unsuccessful candidates are usually registered at different centers to maintain good grades at the school centre.
Ms Museveni commended districts such as Arua, Moyo and Adjumani which host large numbers of refugees for registering very significant increases in the number of candidates last year.
According to Uneb executive secretary Dan N Odongo, whereas previous years registered a significant percentage increase in candidature of about three to five per cent each year, the increase in candidature from 2016 to 2017 reduced to 0.8 per cent.
Uneb statistics indicate that at least 10 districts had their registration figures decline, Bulambuli recording the highest percentage at 24 per cent. In 2016, the district registered at least 3,022 candidates but declined to 2,297 in 2017.
Bulambuli is followed by Buyende (21.7 per cent), Serere (21.6 per cent), Sironko and Pallisa (16.9 per cent each), Kaliro (15.5 per cent), Mubende (15.4 per cent), Luuka (12.7 per cent), Iganga (12.2 per cent) and Mayuge at 11 per cent.
However, Yumbe registered the highest percentage variance in candidature at 61.1 per cent. Moyo came second with (40.7 per cent), Adjumani (34.2 per cent), Kaberamaido (29.3 per cent), Arua (23.6 per cent), Bundibugyo (15.4 per cent) and Ntoroko with 11.3 per cent.
Generally, Uneb chairperson Prof Mary Okwakol said, many districts registered fewer candidates in 2017 PLE examinations.
“The board found out that in most districts, the pupils were subjected to what was called a pre-registration test administered centrally by the districts. Those who did not score a pre-determined mark were not allowed to register for the PLE,” Okwakol said.
Meanwhile, with improved performance in Social Studies and Science subjects last year and a decline in Mathematics and English language, Ms Museveni urged teachers to refocus their methods of teaching.
“The teaching appears to be theoretical and emphasizes drilling of candidates. While performance in Mathematics indicates that more learners got the minimum pass at grade 8, the desired quality passes have declined,” she said, attributing the decline in Mathematics to failure by candidates to handle questions with practical applications.
Legislators opposed to the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill, 2012 say government should increase the budget for agriculture instead of introducing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to counter food insecurity and other climate change challenges.
The MPs who have vowed to fail the passage of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill argue that it promotes use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which are dangerous to lives and the environment.
The bill, which seeks to provide a regulatory framework for safe development and application of biotechnology research, development and release of genetically modified organisms was re-tabled in the House on Thursday following President Museveni's refusal to sign it after parliament passed it in October.
Museveni, in a letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga dated December 21, 2017, cited eleven reasons why the bill must be reconsidered by parliament.
The president sought, among other things, clarification on the title, patent rights of indigenous farmers and sanctions for scientists who mix GMOs with indigenous crops and animals.
Addressing a news conference at parliament, Bufumbira East MP James Nsaba Buturo and Ngora MP David Abala blamed their colleagues and Ugandan scientists for falling prey to the powerful GMO lobbyists although their peers in developed countries, such as the Netherlands, rejected GMOs.
“Ugandan scientists, knowingly or not, are being used by some powers to create a suitable climate for the latter to dominate our country and impose various technologies that would serve their interests and not those of Ugandans,” Buturo said.
The legislators argue that Uganda does not need GMOs as a means to achieve food security.
“Uganda is ranked the world’s second best organic foods producer but if the GMO bill becomes law, this will gravely undermine the safe organic foods thereby endangering people’s lives. I regret that we as a government have failed to take agriculture seriously,” Buturo said.
“You see it in the investments we do or make. You see it in the absence of irrigation, improved seeds, and credit facilities for farmers. It is a whole range of issues we have failed to address. This climate change business cannot be answered by introducing dangerous GMOs, there must be other ways and the country must wake up and say where do we go next?” he added.
Abala expressed gratitude to the President for returning to Parliament the GMO bill and insisted he will lobby colleagues to discard it given the serious impact he says GMOs have on humans and the environment.
“I am happy it's back and we are going to continue where we ended by opposing it and saying it should not be discussed. It must be defeated in the House. If somebody says it will help us fight food insecurity, government must talk about what we must invest in agriculture, I am sure we shall have enough food,” Abala said.
The agriculture budget stood at Shs 828 billion in the financial year 2017/18, accounting for about three percent of the Shs 29 trillion total budget, contrary to the Maputo declaration which recommends that at least 10 percent of the budget be allocated to agriculture.
Nabiwemba was last seen on December, 12, 2017 at her home in Wampewo, Kasangati on Gayaza road. The DPP deputy spokesperson Irene Nakimbugwe confirmed on Saturday that Nabiwemba has been missing for the last one month.
"We would like to ask anyone who has any information about Nabiwemba to contact the Police or the office of the DPP," Nakimbugwe told URN.
While the office of the DPP says the case of missing person has already been reported to the authorities, Police records indicate no such complaint filed at Kasangati Police station.
The Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire says, the area police has only received calls inquiring about the missing person but no one has been at the station to file a complaint.
"We have checked in our records but no such missing person complaint has been filed, " Owoyesigyire told URN.
Two weeks ago, Case clinic reported one of its staff members who had gone missing and after a day he was found burnt beyond recognition.
Three police officers attached to Wandegeya Police Station are under detention and a former operative of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence is wanted over kidnapping a dentist and conning him of his money.
Dr Keneth Majoku, a dentist at Mulago hospital, was kidnapped on December 20 in Mulago and lost a total of Shs5.4m to his captors. He told Sunday Monitor on Wednesday that he was kidnapped from Mulago Staff Road after being called by a police officer attached to Mulago hospital Police Post to help him treat his patient.
“I did not suspect anything, we kept communicating on phone until I reached the Mulago Paramedical School, where I found three men in a car and one of them beckoned me. When I reached the vehicle, I asked for the patient to see him,” Dr Majoku narrates.
However, instead of showing the doctor the patient, another man came from across the road and pushed him into the silver grey Toyota Premio.
“After pushing me into the car, they took my wallet, Shs2.5m and $400 (about Shs1.4m) and my phone,” Dr Majoku says. That was the start of an ordeal that lasted more than five hours.
“I asked the officer who called me what the problem was and they instead drove me to Wandegeya Police Station where the grilling started,” he says.
Dr Majoku says at Wandegeya Police Station, the officers told him he was facing officers from “Inter Security Agency”.
“They asked me whether I knew Martin Kenyi and his sons. They said Martin Kenyi was a rebel collaborator in South Sudan to whom I was supplying drugs,” he says as his eyes well up.
Dr Majoku’s captors also told him that he had bought “the rebel collaborators” 80 acres of land in Bweyale in Kiryandongo District and two tractors.
At Wandegeya Police Station
Inside Wandegeya Police Station, the three policemen, Detective Assistant Superintendent of Police (D/ASP) Francis Odongo, Detective Constable Medald Ninsima and Detective Constable William Basoga, now under arrest, claimed that Dr Majoku’s name was on the list of persons wanted by the South Sudan government.
“They told me I would not see my family again. All this time, I was just crying and telling them that I was innocent, but they could not listen. They would leave me in the room alone and go in the corridors to confer among themselves before returning,” Dr Majoku narrates.
According to them, Dr Majoku’s case was high profile and that they would detain him and hand him over to the South Sudan Government unless he gave them Shs7m.
Dr Majoku said when the trio had walked out of the room, he took his phone from the table and called his cousin, Dr Daniel Drichi, who works with Unicef in South Sudan’s Western Equatorial province but was in Uganda at the time.
“I told him I was being held at Wandegeya (and) he should come. My cousin came and demanded to know why they were holding me,” Dr Majoku says.
They told Dr Drichi that his relative was supplying drugs to a one Martin Kenyi and that he had accumulated money and bought land and tractors for his sons.
“The trio did not allow me to speak to Dr Majoku, who at the time, was in tears and he negotiated with the policemen before giving them Shs400,000. We negotiated until they agreed that I pay them an extra Shs1.1m. I called my wife and she brought the money,” Dr Drichi says.
Dr Drichi says before his wife would bring the money, his cousin’s captors received a phone call and they went to a guest house in Wandegeya, taking Dr Majoku with them. At the guest house, they arrested two men who they found drinking.
“They ransacked them and took their phones before walking out of the place; leaving a policeman to guard Dr Majoku and me,” Dr Drichi said.
The policemen later returned and when they were given the Shs1.1m, they walked away, leaving their ‘suspect’, Dr Majoku, behind.
Reporting the case
The conman. After being released, the two doctors later established that Alfred Guma, one of the captors, had long been dismissed from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and was a conman in town. Dr Majoku later reported the case to the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) of the police in Naguru.
Officers arrested. Mr Good Mwesigwa, who was this week removed from the position of commandant of PSU after just weeks in charge, confirmed that three police officers had been arrested over the matter and the former CMI operative, Guma is wanted over the same matter. Mr Mwesigwa said the policemen will be charged with robbery, kidnap and demanding a ransom.