The Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Kataha Museveni, has said that the Ministry is investigating circumstances under which over 30 pupils in Butambala and Iganga districts failed to sit the recently concluded Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).
This revelation by the Education Minister follows concerns raised by Bunyole West MP, Hon. James Waluswaka, on 06 November 2018 when he said that the pupils did not sit their PLE because of failure by head teachers to pay examination fees. He attributed this to reported misuse of the pupil’s registration fees.
In response to Hon. Waluswaka during plenary sitting on Thursday, 8 November, 2018, Mrs. Museveni said that preliminary investigations indicated that the pupils missed the exams because they were in schools which were not registered with the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB).
She said it had been discovered that 20 pupils in Bahrain Nursery and Primary School in Iganga were not registered to sit for the examinations because the school was not registered by UNEB.
“We have cases of schools without exam centres but they register students in schools with exam centres. We are investigating why these students were not registered in a school with exam centers,” Mrs. Museveni said.
She added that the Ministry of Education is verifying media reports which indicated that five pupils of Busenja Junior school and six pupils from St. Peter’s Primary school, both in Butambala district were not registered to sit for the exams.
While responding to comments by Busiro East County MP, Medard Lubega Sseggona and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Betty Aol Ocan, to consider giving supplementary examinations to the pupils who missed the exams, the Minister said that the UNEB policy is clear on the examination process, which begins with registration of candidates in March of the examination year. She explained that the process also involves preparation of the examination, setting, moderation, typesetting and packing, distribution and field conduct of the examination.
“Candidates of a particular year should be assessed using the same instrument to ensure uniformity in grading awards. Administering a different examination therefore, to a group that did not sit is creating another examination within the main examination. It is not a good practice internationally,” Mrs. Museveni said.
She added that giving another examination can only be done when UNEB cancels or withdraws the entire or regional examination due to factors that render that examination invalid due to errors or widespread malpractice.
“Giving another examination is a dangerous precedent as school heads and directors will misuse the funds in the knowledge that another examination is possible. The whole process will be abused,” Mrs. Museveni said.
She however said that UNEB provides ways in which schools can confirm registration status of pupils and this includes use of SMS.
“Those pupils discovered unregistered before printing and packing of examinations are registered but no arrangements are possible for those found unregistered immediately before or after the examination,” she said.
Mrs. Museveni also gave an assurance that the proposed UNEB Bill that will soon be presented to Cabinet has very steep penalties for school directors found guilty of swindling registration fees.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, asked the Minister to consider developing a system in which pupils and students can check their registration status.
“This system should be able to allow each registered candidate to find out if they are registered,” said Oulanyah.