KAMPALA — The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education systems around the world, particularly affecting the most vulnerable learners.
Governments across the world closed schools to slow the spread of the virus. In Uganda, schools were closed for two years – the longest closure in Africa.
School closures increased inequalities and exacerbated the pre-existing educational crisis, and threatened to erode the achievements that had been made to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Pupils from vulnerable communities were particularly disadvantaged against their counterparts from more affluent backgrounds. With all pupils required to sit for the PLE, which is a high-stake and mandatory examination that certifies completion of primary education, the pandemic handicapped vulnerable learners greatly.
The PLE is a requirement for all Ugandan children wishing to pursue secondary education. It is a written examination, administered face-to-face and delivered through paper-pencil tests. All test-takers are presented with the same cognitive booklets or tests, which are aligned with the national curriculum.
Passing the PLE is a key milestone in the education of Ugandan children. PLE scores determine the kind of secondary schools that candidates transition to. Competition for slots in the country’s best schools is high, necessitating the need to have PLE revision programmes to help candidates prepare for their exams.
Education partners like Bridge Schools Uganda have offered revision materials that are readily available in the market for public access.
The Bridge PLE revision books are designed to help prepare candidates to answer test questions.
The books guide candidates through a revision programme that gives them a sense of confidence. The security and belief that comes from that feeling, having the knowledge that they have revised what they needed to, reduces test anxiety, which is a necessary step to sitting an exam well.
The Ministry of Education and Sports requires that before any learning material can be put out for use in schools in Uganda, it should be given approval for use by the Ministry.
The Bridge PLE revision books have been approved by the Ministry through the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC).
The revision books are prepared by a team of experienced instructional design experts, and cover all the sections of the nationally curriculum.
John Aluba is the Director of Schools at Bridge Schools Uganda.
He says that the PLE revision books address specific learning challenges most Ugandan pupils face while preparing for the PLE, covering the most important topics from P4 through P7.
“Studying for the PLE is difficult. Through the revision books, we have provided candidates with the practice, but they are the one who must come with the determination to succeed. There will be times when you want to stop because you feel tired or the work is too hard. Keep going! With focus, regular practice, there is no doubt you can improve your PLE score.” Says Mr. Aluba.
The revision books cover four subjects of Maths, English, Science and Social Studies. They are meant to cater for the examination preparation needs of primary school children. All the learning materials covered under these subject areas were evaluated by the National Curriculum Development Centre and deemed appropriate for use at primary school level.
The four volumes of the PLE revision series have hundreds of pages of practice questions which will help candidates achieve top scores in the exams. The series provide ample opportunities to answer PLE-like questions. This gives pupils an opportunity to practice their test-taking strategies, and the more they practice, the more it becomes a habit.
Research has shown that strong test-taking habits allow candidates to arrive at the exam day with confidence, which is a prerequisite for good performance.
“Candidates will get the most out of the PLE revision books if they use the books as part of a daily study plan that includes all the four volumes.” Concludes John Aluba.
A recently released independent study by the 2019 Nobel prize winning economist found that Bridge Schools have achieved among the largest learning gains ever measured by a major study in Africa.
The groundbreaking study was conducted by Professor Michael Kremer of the University of Chicago. The study finds that underserved children receive 53% more learning over the course of their pre-primary and primary school career at Bridge Schools.
The study is a testament to the holistic and integrated teaching and learning approaches that Bridge implements. It’s this approach that is behind the highly effective PLE revision books that have seen pupils from Bridge Schools Uganda perform well in the PLE exams for four consecutive years.