2020 Exams: UNEB Investigating Decline in the Number of UCE, UACE Candidates

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Uganda National Examinations Board is investigating the decrease in the number of candidates in the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Examinations (UACE) cycles.

The examinations body says it has recorded a significant decline in the number of candidates who registered for UCE and UACE while there was a huge increase in the number of Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) candidates.

At UCE, a decline of 3,808 candidates was reported while at UACE the figure stood at 4,907. However, at PLE, a 7.8 percent increase was recorded bringing the number of candidates to 749,811 this year compared to 695,700 in 2019.   Jennifer Kalule Musamba, the UNEB Senior Public Relations Officer, says that they are worried about the decline in the number of registered candidates.

Annually, UNEB estimates an increase of 2 percent in the number of PLE candidates. The 7.8 increase is abnormal; according to Kasule. “We were shocked by this increase. It’s not something we were expecting. If anything we thought we would register a decline due to the COVID-19 effect,” Kasule says.

Education officials that we spoke to however attributed the decline in the numbers of candidates to failure by many students to return to school. Fredrick Kiyingi, the Wakiso District Education Officer who doubles as the chairperson of the DEOs Association, says that many learners failed to resume studies after the COVID-19 lockdown.  

“Some of the students failed to go back due to money challenges but others just decided to make money. They now want to sell facial masks and other things instead of going back to school,” Muyingo said. At the primary level, Kiyingi attributed the increase in numbers to the registration of learners in Primary 6.

“Some parents decided to push their children in P.6 to sit PLE. This is why the number of registered candidates is above the normal,” Nsubuga explained.

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