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UCE: Namugongo, Budo, Kitovu top sciences

Students in a chemistry practical exam
Students in a chemistry practical exam

An analysis of the recently released 2017 Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examination results shows that Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo topped the list of schools with the highest number of students scoring maximum marks (aggregate 8 in eight subjects).

At least 18 of the school’s candidates attained top marks. It also had the highest number of students (14) scoring aggregate 9 in eight subjects. It is followed by St Mary’s College Kisubi (SMACK) with seven of its students returning aggregate 8 in eight subjects. Also, 10 students from SMACK scored aggregate 9 in eight subjects.

Namirembe Hillside, St Andrea Kahwa’s Hoima, Makerere College, Naalya SS Namugongo, and Seeta HS followed in that order.

Getting a maximum aggregate score or close is an indicator that the school and students demonstrated high levels of knowledge and skills in the subjects they sat, according to Uneb. 

The Observer looked closely at the performance of each school based on the number of students obtaining distinction one in the seven compulsory subjects: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Geography, History and English.

According to this measure, St Henry’s College Kitovu leads the pack with the highest number of distinction one (D1) in biology, recording five out of the total 39 D1s registered in this subject countrywide.

Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo topped chemistry and physics with 114 and 50 D1s, respectively. Kibuli SS led in English with 26 D1s; King’s College Budo excelled in Mathematics with 159 D1s, while St Mary’s SS Kitende took geography and history with 179 and 316 D1s respectively.

Further probing shows that out of the seven compulsory subjects, biology accounted for the least number of candidates passing with distinction one. Just 39 D1s were recorded countrywide.

In biology, St Henry’s College, Kitovu was followed by Our Lady of Africa, Namilyango College, Buddo SS, SMACK, Kawempe Muslim SS, and St Stephen’s College Bajja, each with three candidates scoring D1.

History had the highest number of candidates passing with distinction one at 8,673. St Mary’s SS Kitende led with 316 D1s, Our Lady of Africa and Namilyango  College (143), Nabisunsa (142), Naalya SS Namugongo (141), Buddo SS (140), SMACKi (137), Seeta High School (128), St Andrea Kahwa’s Hoima (121), Trinity College Nabbingo (111) and Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo with 104 D1s.

Still, there was a remarkable difference between government schools, where the poor are likely to take their children, and private schools where the rich students study. Public schools registered the least distinctions and highest failure rates – rural-based schools did not have a single student in either the first or the second division.


Over the last five years, Mengo SS topped Kampala district, but this time, Kibuli SS captured top spot with 277 students passing in division 1. Comparatively, Mengo SS claimed second place with 265 students in the same division.

Mengo even saw its aggregate 8 in eight subjects, in Richard Kiyini, for the first time since 2015. While Kibuli are basking in the glow of their success, the school head teacher at Mengo SS, John Fred Kazibwe, says they will be back next year.

Kibuli’s acting head teacher, Masitula Nambajjwe Serugo, says they are not taking things for granted. Across the country, Wakiso district’s St Mary’s SS Kitende maintained their supremacy at 487 passing in division 1 out of the 499 students registered there.

Elsewhere, Bweranyangi are the best school in western Uganda’s Bushenyi district, while St Henry’s College Kitovu recaptured form in Masaka. Maryhill leads Ntare and Mbarara High School in Mbarara, while Seeta High School Mukono took Mukono.

Kiira College Butiki remained strong in Jinja with 157 in division one. Iganga SS (203); Tororo Girls School (176); Gombe SS took Butambala at 208 students in first division while Mbale SS (40).

Gulu’s St Joseph’s College Layibi topped the Northern, West Nile and far Eastern districts with 67 in first division out of a class of 123. Lira’s Dr Obote College Boroboro had 46. Moroto, in desperately poor Karamoja sub-region, returned just five division one’s from a class of 113.


The exam results confirmed that the country is struggling to get more students to pass science subjects. Almost half of the 320,119 candidates who sat for the examinations last year did not have the minimum competency in sciences – scoring F9.

During the release of the exam results last week, the executive secretary of the Uganda National Examinations Board, Dan Odongo, called for action to reverse this trend.

“Percentage pass levels for all science subjects still remain low,” said Odongo. “As in the previous years, candidates experienced problems in handling apparatus during the practical tests, as well as making and recording observations and drawing conclusions from those observations.”

Conversely, science subjects are compulsory for all students at O-level. Odongo explained that it appeared many students only get a laboratory experience during the final examinations.

“In very many schools, practicals are not done by the candidates until towards the UCE examination and candidates go into the practical examination very ill-equipped,” he said.

But one teacher who attended the release of the results told The Observer,  “The challenge is bigger than they [education officials] want to accept. If you think something is crucial for your advancement, invest in it.”

The poor showing means far fewer students will offer sciences at high school and consequently at university.


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