By Taddeo Bwambale and Nora Candiru
In new measures intended to curb examinations malpractices, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has announced that those caught cheating in exams will face stiffer penalties, which include barring them from re-sitting the exams.
Briefing the media ahead of the exams that begin on Monday at UNEB headquarters in Ntinda over the weekend, UNEB Executive Secretary Mathew Bukenya said that this will be on top of the scrapping of licenses of the offending examination centers for a period not less than five years.
"Anybody found cheating will be severely punished. The board shall not hesitate to withdraw licenses for centres that aid cheating for a period between one and five years," Bukenya said.
The body, he added, would tighten restrictions on malpractices, citing the example of Nigeria where students who cheat are denied a chance to sit for exams again. "We are going to moot for the amendment of the law so that this applies here," he stressed, adding that this will stump out the impunity.
Bukenya revealed that the exams body has deployed a total of 889 scouts countrywide to monitor the UCE exams, but disclosed that more will operate undercover during the two week period.
The Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams start today, with a total of 268,782 students expected to sit for the exams. This shows a drop by 4,580 students compared to last year's candidate population of 270,363.
Bukenya warned parents and students against the practice bribing examination scouts, saying they are the most affected whenever results are nullified.
"It is so painful for us to sit in this hall and make decisions to cancel such exams. Parents should desist from engaging in bribing field officers or paying for fake question papers," Bukenya warned.
As part of the new measures, police and security agencies will monitor exercise in all districts and file reports to on daily and weekly basis.
According to the UNEB timetable, Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) will start on November 5 and end on November 12. Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) will start on November 12 and end on November 30.
Business and technical exams will start on November 12 and end on November 16.
During the same period, UNEB will conduct UCE exams on behalf of the Government of Southern Sudan, Bukenya disclosed. A total of 1,226 candidates will sit for the exams at 20 centres within South Sudan.
South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, following a referendum on self-determination.