At least 15,000 candidates who registered for the 2012 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) and Ordinary Level examinations (Senior Three) did not sit the exams, officials said yesterday.In Senior Three, 2,403 students did not sit the examinations. Kirehe district in Eastern Province recorded the highest number of the no-shows with 5.5 per cent of the candidates who had registered in the district.Next were Gatsibo district in Eastern Province (4.7 per cent) and Nyabihu in Western Province (4.4 per cent), while Huye recorded the lowest figure with 1.8 per cent of the registered candidates. While releasing the results yesterday, the Minister of Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, said it (the no-shows) is a serious issue, which requires urgent attention. “Of course, there are some isolated cases, but the main reason is that some schools deliberately bar academically weak students from sitting exams for fear of registering failures to ‘taint’ the school image,” Dr Biruta said.Léonille Narumanzi, the vice mayor in-charge of social affairs in Bugesera district where 10 per cent of candidates missed exams, said students who had not maximised school attendance withdrew because they were afraid of failure.Ministry to crack the whipNarumanzi said most of the students were from the rural sectors where he said, “Some students want to live above the means of their parents.” “They drop out of school for a while and go to Kigali, and when they happen to come back, they find others have studied a lot,” Narumanzi said. Minister Biruta said they would meet local leaders over the matter because education for-all programme is a right to every Rwandan and there is no reason a student can be barred from sitting examinations.He warned that in future, schools which do not perform well will lose out on support funds.He said the ministry plans to start funding schools according to the number of students who pass from one level to another.“Making students repeat a class will not be their option,” he said, calling upon parents to also follow up their children’s performance.