The Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb), in collaboration with security agencies, has apprehended several headteachers and invigilators for their alleged involvement in examination misconduct during the ongoing Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams.
According to Uneb spokesperson Jennifer Kalule, a chief invigilator and three headteachers from various schools have been detained. Another group of students is currently under scrutiny for suspected malpractice.
Kalule stated in a press release that a chief invigilator at African Pearl Secondary School in Makindye Division, Kampala, was taken into custody for allegedly providing external assistance to students during the Chemistry practical examination. Kalule reported that a handwritten piece of paper containing potential answers was discovered in the examination room where the chief invigilator was supervising.
The invigilator is currently held at Kabalagala police station as investigations continue. According to Section 26 of the 2021 UNEB Act, any supervisor or invigilator found allowing unauthorized assistance to a candidate may be fined up to Shs 20 million or imprisoned for up to five years, or both. The Act also stipulates that teachers found encouraging malpractice may face both legal consequences and disciplinary action, including disqualification from the teaching profession.
Furthermore, students from an undisclosed school in Kagadi were found with answer sheets filled with practical paper responses, despite not completing the practical sessions. This practice, involving teachers providing advanced knowledge of practical paper content to students, has been a persistent issue.
Two of the apprehended headteachers, one from Paul Mukasa SS in Kalagi, Mukono district, and the other from Kanyabwanga secondary school in Bushenyi district, were caught sharing examination papers electronically. The headteacher of Kanyabwanga secondary school was arrested by the police in Bushenyi for allegedly sharing an image purported to be an examination material for a UNEB Biology practical paper for 2023 on a social media platform for headteachers.
Uneb has observed an increase in the misuse of social media platforms, with individuals sharing materials claiming to be Uneb examinations. Prior to the official start of the exams, Uneb identified counterfeit papers circulating on platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram, leading to the arrest of nine individuals, including headteachers.
Uneb’s executive director, Dan Odongo, cautioned the public about the fraudulent nature of the circulated papers. Under the new UNEB Act, possessing examination papers, materials, or information, whether genuine or counterfeit, may result in legal consequences, including a fine not exceeding Shs 40 million, a prison term not exceeding five years, or both.
In Kwania district, the headteacher of Inomo SS was arrested for suspected tampering with an envelope containing Mathematics Paper 1 examination papers. Authorities suspect that the contents of the envelope were tampered with between the storage center and the school. Police are actively investigating the case under Section 28 of the UNEB Act of 2021, which categorizes such actions as an offense.
Additionally, police in Kagadi are looking into an incident where two students of St Michael SS, Nyakoma, wrote each other’s index numbers during the Geography exams, claiming to have forgotten their own. Uneb suspects that this incident may involve impersonation, similar to a case witnessed in Kawempe last year, where a substitute wrote the exam on behalf of a candidate.
The implementation of the new UNEB Act and increased resources reflects the organization’s dedication to combating exam malpractice. Some experts remain optimistic that stricter penalties and effective enforcement could eventually eradicate this issue. However, critics attribute the prevalence of malpractice to the high stakes associated with national exams and advocate for alternative assessment methods, such as formative assessments, to reduce pressure on students and discourage malpractice.
As the UCE exams progress, candidates are scheduled to tackle the Biology (practical) paper in the morning, followed by the Commerce paper in the afternoon on Day 4. This year, a total of 364,421 candidates have been registered for the exams, which will continue until November 17, 2023.