Gov’t Schools Launch their Own Online Admissions Ahead of National Selections

Written by on July 20, 2021

Several traditional schools have started advertising for Senior One admissions before the national selection and placement process.

Schools that have opened for application include King’s College Budo, Gayaza High School, Trinity College Nabingo, Mbarara High School, Namiryango College, St Mary’s college Namagunga, and Uganda Martyrs Namugongo among others.

Many of the schools in question have designed web-based application forms that parents or learners must fill while a few like Ndejje SS require the applicants to submit hand-filled applications. The schools have already set their cut-off point at seven and eight aggregates.

James Odongo, Director of Studies at Mbarara High School, says the school has decided to call for the application earlier enough so that when schools are opened, no time is wasted.

Whereas admission in private schools is largely controlled by school owners, government schools are mandated to go through a national selection process that was put in place to ensure that students join government schools on merit based on their performance and choices.

In 2018, government schools were stripped of the mandate to select the students that will join them in Senior One with the ministry giving 100 percent of students to be admitted through selection as one of the means to end favoritism and corruption during admissions.

According to rules, schools are not even allowed to admit students out of the selection process to fill unfilled vacancies of students who fail to turn up. This is done after consulting the ministry and can only happen after two weeks when schools have opened.

However, several headteachers interviewed for this story said that the ongoing activity is not intended to undermine the national selection process as students that we will pass through the selection process will be given priority at the time of admission.

Constantine Mpuuga Sajjabi, Headmaster of Namilyago College, notes that the online application call is specifically for compassionate admissions targeting students that scored aggregate eight and below and those that gave the college first choice.

“Filling the form is not a guarantee for a vacancy and therefore, applicants are advised to try other alternatives,” Sajjabi noted in the communication to parents.

Odongo also adds that during the selection process schools are at times given few students compared to their capacity and several students who are selected and don’t turn up.

“This leaves us with a gap and to fill it we also carry out internal admissions targeting students who meet our requirements but are not placed at our school by the selection process. Given that we are unusual times of covid19, we need to start this process early,” says Odongo.

Patrick Male Bakka, headteacher King’s College Budo, also notes that besides learners who get through the selection process, the school also has two other categories of students who are admitted.

“The opened online admission call is targeting two categories; There are people who would like to join the prestigious schools but their students didn’t give us the first choice. And students who are recommended because of the status of their families or our long-time benefactors,” says Bakka.

Bakka notes although the school has set its cut-off point at seven aggregates, applicants from royal families in different kingdoms and chiefdom and others recommended by benefactors and other highly placed officials are reserved placement regardless of their performance.

While releasing Primary Leaving Examinations, education minister Janet Kataha Museveni noted that the ministry was to set a selection soon when the cabinet has given guidance on the plan to reopen education institutes.

Several officials from the guide and counseling department at the ministry of education and the national selection committee note that declaration of admission by schools is premature and will only cause unnecessary panic and excitement among parents and learners.

“Calling for application at this time will certainly jeopardize the selection process and encourage backdoor admissions favoring a section of learners,” an official from the selection committee noted.

However, state minister for higher education, John Chrysestom Muyingo, backs the initiative of online admissions. Muyingo, however, adds that schools should charge parents for the same and no learners should be given placement before the election process is completed.

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But, many schools have also set a nonrefundable amount of money that is paid by applicants. For instance, St Mary’s College Namagunga has set an application fee of 50,000 shillings.

“As a recommendation from the board of governors, each applicant is required to pay a non-refundable fee of UGX 50000,” the online advert reads in part.

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