The minister of state for Primary Education, Rosemary Sseninde, has appealed to schools to emphasize teaching rather than giving many tests to learners.
Seninde’s call came as she addressed a three-day international conference of the Association of Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) at Silver Springs hotel in Kampala, last week.
The minister challenged the assessment bodies to make use of technology in examination setting and to continually train their staff to improve the quality of assessment and learning.
Nine assessement bodies were represented at the meeting, from Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Swaziland, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. Uganda’s national examinations board boss and AEAA chair, Dan Odongo, said the annual meeting offered an opportunity to reflect on changes in strategy.
He said the assessors were in the country to appreciate various changes such as item capture theory (to learn how to better reinterpret subject material for exams), as well as equating tests (to ensure that every test was similar and thus able to obtain the same result).
“We are working to ensure that all examinations are of the highest quality and thus reliable as a benchmark of learning,” he said. “We are looking to ensure that exams are set according to similar standards across the countries, so that they are easy to equate.”
Commenting on whether a one-off national exam gives an accurate assessment over the study cycle, Odongo said he has not seen viable alternatives.
“I have heard about continuous assessment in school, but the practical side of this has become too complicated to implement as we do not have well-set and reliable tests in the various schools,” he said.
However, he revealed that there had been a consideration for more exams, such as one in primary five and senior two in addition to the current primary seven and senior four finals.
“… but its main challenge is the cost of setting and administering this kind of examination.”
The meeting occurred a week after the release of O-level results, which state minister for Higher Education, Dr John C Muyingo, pointed out showed that teaching targets examinations.
“Our children are only reading what the teachers speculate will be in the exams instead of getting a wholesome education that would enable learners improve their skills,” he said.