Ivan Musoke

of primary importance

You may not believe this, but I went to Primary School once. I think it’s what people on the other side of the ocean call Elementary School, but, moving on. I went to primary school and I too had the privilege of sitting for my Primary Leaving Examinations…and, as it is now, my generation of candidates also had the system fuss over them. Looking back one question looms in the recesses of my steadily greying grey matter.

It’s not so much, why did I need to learn how to arrange stuff in Alphabetical order. I really think that may come in handy some time. It’s not even, ‘why exactly did I run away from that girl when all she wanted was for us to hold hands?’ And it is not, believe it or not, “were they real?”

Far from it. My question, my bane of contention is, ‘what was the big deal?’

If you have had the opportunity to traverse through this great nation’s education system, you know that on the days that ‘candidates’ sit to do their Primary Leaving Examinations a strange thing happens. It’s probably not a big deal, but on those two days, time.stands.still. Everyone else is barred from going to school.

Well, they would be barred if they really gave a shit about studying. So let’s call it what it is, a holiday.

It’s also an anomaly, but that’s a story for another day.

So for two days out of the whole year, P.7 candidates run the show. They are given the keys to the… whatever you want to be given the keys to when you’ve got all that power in your hands. In their case, to the DH/Lunchbox?

I seriously don’t understand why life has to come to a standstill just because kids have exams. Don’t get me wrong, before P.7, I was grateful for the two days off (less grateful for the stupid homework, what’s the longest river in Uganda? Are you kidding me? That ain’t mental stimulation, that’s bar talk!) But looking back, what the hell was that about?

Let’s be honest, P.7 kids no matter how old they are (and they can be pretty old) are not that important. They are not going to fight for world peace, they certainly won’t pioneer stem cell research in Uganda and they will not lead this country…neither will a couple of 40 year olds, no matter what stage of their academic journey they happen to be traversing.

This stuff’s a recipe for disaster. You hand over such self-important sentiments, there’s no way a person won’t move around with an oversized ego. Shit, business doesn’t come to a standstill when he releases an album, but look at Kanye.

At this age, the biggest concern falls along the lines of, “where will I find a Nintendo PS3 or Xbox 360”. Is this really all it takes to earn people their freedom? Going to the bush doesn’t even get the rest of the country a day off. A day!!! And here we are celebrating TWO days?!

These are the guys that will absolutely eat-up a trans-day disco (my understanding of this is that it’s basically a party that goes on from 11am deep into the early hours of the afternoon) so clearly, they can’t be accused of being that old.

Is it because these guys are the most susceptible to ‘cheating’? Is that why the whole school is cleared? We wouldn’t want junior to be told what the longest river in the world is, would we? Come on! I know grown-ups that have a hard time helping kids out with their homework. It’s absolutely safe to leave them lurking around in class. Heck, I’d sooner clear the schools for O’level and A’level exams.

You can’t claim there’s suddenly a need to give people some time out. Anyone can attest to this, holidays just keep getting shorter. So clearly it’s not an act of benevolence… the crappy homework you’re sent away with on your little holiday proves this.

If you’re going to make them feel this important you might as well give them all the protection they need when they cross over to secondary school (or drop out) and start taking the piss just because they (think) they can.

We have an explanation for why cooked food should not be given to kids in school. We have very flimsy reasons for the whole ‘girls should not have long hair as they study’ thing, but no one has explained why P7’s can run the show during examination season and every other candidate has to make do with TERM X.


  1. Oh, you are just sour! You miss the school holidays, be it the 2 days; the 3 & 6 months 'vac'; semester break [can you imagine arts students at my university used to getting 'reading week' – no lectures! Us scientists were not so blessed]; Did i mention SUMMER HOLIDAYS; easter and christmas…. Guess what, there is another Eid coming up soon 🙂 Do i speak for the world [of post education]?

  2. Dude, i liked where u were going with this. I can relate.
    I finally figured out that its really a space issue. Do you know how many desks had to be between every one so that cheating was minimalized in the hope that some of those young minds could make it into secondary school?
    I went to a pretty packed primary school. Think the candidate class was like 150.. now slap UPE on that & you have so many kids its not even funny.
    Interestingly enough, I have a draft post on the subject .. only mine is on how suddenly every bishop from God knows where is praying for candidates…
     & then I ask….. do prayers really help you pass even when you did not prep for the exam?
    Belief is a funny thing… Is all I am saying…..

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