2023 UCE, UACE candidates should focus on academic progression 

(Last Updated On: 25 October 2023)

Lira I On Monday, October 23, 2023, the UCE 2023 candidates entered the second week of their month-long Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations.

This year’s cohort of UCE candidates will be the last group to do national exams under the old O-level curriculum.

Consequently, it is very important that these students perform well so that they can progress forward academically. At UCE (level 2 of Uganda National Qualifications Framework), obtaining divisions one, two, three and four enables one to progress forward, through two academic pathways. 

Either progress to A-level (two years) or branch out to pursue a 2-year certificate course of their choice. All these two pathways lead you to the much-coveted university degree. Post-A Level certificate, then diploma, and finally to the degree. This is a longer route to the degree. 

However, many believe that these young people should be given another opportunity, especially for those who may obtain unfavourable UCE results (divisions 4, 7 and 9) in these exams.

At a press briefing held on October 16, 2023, UNEB spokesperson, Ms Jennifer Kalule disclosed that UNEB is seeking to extend the deadline for phasing out the old curriculum by one year. 

It is important to look at the data here so that we grasp the true gravity of this issue. Ms Jennifer Kalule said the move is to aid students who will fail exams this year to have a second chance and do exams next year under the old curriculum.

This is absolutely good news to these current UCE candidates because there are several reasons beyond one’s control that could lead one to perform dismally during exams. 

It is only fair, and just that such few cases are accorded another opportunity to rewrite their exams. Repeating an exam, although looked down upon by many, provides one with a new lease on life. 

UNEB and the Ministry of Education and Sports should clarify more about next year’s UCE exams. Will UNEB set 2024 UCE exams for both the old curriculum and the new curriculum? Will there be separate centres for those / repeating the old curriculum? 

Otherwise, we appreciate the efforts of UNEB to ask the Ministry of Education and Sports to phase out the old curriculum. 

Meanwhile, the UACE exams start on November 10, with a briefing of candidates. Like their UCE counterparts, these young adults must aim for academic progression. 

It is important to note that, by the time you reach S.6, you have spent about 13-16 years in school. A-level is at level 3 of the education hierarchy, and UACE exams are the grand finals of secondary school education.

Therefore, despite the academic fatigue and other personal challenges in your life, you have to really prepare very well so that you perform well in the finals of secondary school.

At the UACE level (Level 3), there are three pathways one can pursue, depending on the scores they have obtained. The most popular pathway is direct entry.

Last year, 2022, out of the about 97,890 candidates that sat for UACE, 41,974 (44 %) passed with three principal passes, and 25,841 (27%) passed with two principal passes, the minimum required for admission to degree programmes. This category totals 71%. 

The second pathway is a diploma. When you get one principal pass & two subsidiary passes, you qualify for a diploma, and will most likely study at a private tertiary institution or university because most public universities don’t have diploma programmes. Last year, 2022, 19% (or 18,382) candidates qualified for diploma-level study programmes.

Also read: Interview: ASARECA ED Dr. Enock Warinda on working with the National Agricultural Research Institutes 

The last, and most recent academic pathway for A-level leavers is the Higher Education Certificate (HEC). This is meant for UACE holders with at least two subsidiary passes in principal subjects.

For the avoidance of doubt, a holder of UACE with only 1 Principal pass shall be deemed to have met the admission requirements.

Each year, only one-third of the total UCE candidates proceed to A-level, on account of the belief that passing A-level is harder. However, this HEC option greatly increases the chances of academic progression. 

Also read: Angoda: Enhanced science teachers’ salary alone will not improve performance 

After sitting for UCE or UACE exams, the preparation for the next level of education should start immediately. Although any education pathway is good, in the end, we need graduates who have the knowledge, skill set, and attitudes to thrive in the 21st-century workplace & economy. 

Emmanuel Angoda is the founder of Triskelion Education and Skills Initiative (TESI), and a teacher at Lira Town College. angodaemmanuel@gmail.com

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