This time of year PLE results are making big news in Uganda.

A few weeks ago PLE (Primary Leaving Examinations) results were released, accompanied by a media frenzy. Day after day gleaming faces of pupils that had scored good grades were splashed across front pages of the 2 main national newspapers, with many more of their inner pages devoted to testimonies from pupils on how they succeeded. (As I write this, it has just been announced that O-level results are out, so look out for even more testimonials!)

Many of the pupils interviewed attributed their passing the exams and good grades to ‘God’.

I recently asked some friends of mine who believe that ‘God’ supernaturally intervenes to help people get good grades to tell me how ‘God’ does it.

Here are the answers I got:

  1. ‘God’ implants the answers into your thoughts
  2. ‘God’ controls your actions, so that prior to your exams you end up studying only the specific topics that ‘God’ knew well in advance the examination questions will be derived from
  3. ‘God’ controls the examining authorities so that they set questions ‘God’ knew in advance you’d have no difficulty answering
  4. ‘God’ magically changes your wrong answers (after you have already submitted them) into correct ones before they are transported to the examiner’s offices for marking
  5. ‘God’, or praying to ‘God’, makes you relax, so that you can sit through the exam calmly and answer the questions correctly.

Out of these, I only found the fifth point interesting, although it would require a little rephrasing. I would put it this way…

  • BELIEF that ‘God’ exists and answers prayers CAN “make you relax, so that you can sit through the exam calmly and answer the questions correctly”

…provided, of course, that you had actually been studying diligently and effectively. This is aptly illustrated in an interview that Sharon Kiggundu, a pupil who scored aggregate four in the 2009 PLE, had with a local paper:

“She told Saturday Vision that she read tirelessly and left everything to God. Her mother sent her an SMS that she had got what she had been praying for.”

I then asked my friends who they thought we should attribute poor grades to, if the ‘good’ grades were attributable to ‘God’.

At first I thought they were all going to say ‘Satan’, but I was pleasantly suprised. The response I got was that it was the person’s fault. The person just didn’t study hard enough – they said. But in saying that ‘not studying hard enough’ is what leads to poor grades, weren’t they unwittingly admitting that it is actually studying hard that does lead to better grades?

Going back to Sharon’s testimony – I’d like to pose a question..

  • What would have happened if Sharon hadn’t read tirelessly and had JUST left everything to ‘God’?

Hmm..

Study hard. Think positive. Try and relax.. That’s how to pass exams.

No imaginary ‘God’ necessary.

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