The Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB wants the forthcoming cycle of examinations to be carried out under a new law, which was passed by Parliament on Thursday.
The new Uganda National Examinations Board -UNEB Bill which seeks to repeal the 1983 Act creates reforms relating to the administration and management of primary and secondary national examinations. The bill suggested several stringent measures to curb the malpractice in all three sets of national examinations.
The bill suggested that anyone is caught cheating in national examinations should be jailed for 10-years or pay a fine of 40 million Shillings or both. It also suggested that a similar punishment be given to individuals who have been misappropriating examination registration fees for candidates.
UNEB’s Executive Secretary Dan Odongo says the new legislation has several aspects that would enable them to curb malpractices during the examination period and strengthen the administration and management of the process. He appealed to the education minister Janet Kataaha Museveni to inform the president to expedite assenting to the bill before the examinations begin.
According to the revised school calendar, primary seven candidates will undergo a briefing on March 26 and write Primary Leaving Examinations on March 30 and 31, 2021, while their senior four counterparts will be briefed for examination on February 26, and sit for examinations starting March 1. The senior six candidates will be briefed on April 9 and start their respective examinations on April 12.
A total of 1,181,940 candidates registered to undertake examinations this year. They include 749,807 for Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), 333,766 for the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) and 98,367 for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education-UACE.
Odongo notes that the board has not changed any of its examinations management processes. But, he adds that they need more examination rooms to adhere to social distance rules which call for more human resource in form of invigilators. UNEB also intends to increase the number of marking centres and examiners.
However, several educationists have over time noted that the enactment of a new law may not necessarily end examination malpractice in Uganda.
Malpractice has been attributed to several factors including commercialization of education, which results in stiff competition between schools, desire for parents to have their children in the best schools, increasing pressure on teachers and school administrators to produce results among others.
Over the years, the examination body has been tightening the grip to curb the vice. among the recent strategies was the introduction of ‘random numbers’ to eliminate malpractice orchestrated during marking.
UNEB has already presented a 10.5 billion Shillings supplementary budget. Although legislators were questioning the expenditures saying the quoted prices ‘appear grossly inflated, the Education minister Janet Museveni has assured the board that she will make sure that they receive all the amount of money they need and on time.