Uganda National Examinations Board has said it will not register this year’s candidates for national examinations unless government approves its proposal to increase registration fees for all candidates.
Mr Hamis Kaheru, the Uneb spokesman, in reply to enquiries by this newspaper said yesterday they had suffered several setbacks in administering examinations and would not want a repeat of the financial squeeze due to low registration fees.
Uneb in the 2014/15 budget framework paper proposed that registration fees for Senior Six candidate be increased from Shs80,000 to Shs92,790, whereas Senior Four students would pay Shs89,650 up from Shs80,000.
Uneb also wants the Primary Leaving Examination registration fee for each pupil revised from Shs14,000 to Shs17, 000 .
Education minister Jessica Alupo, however said she had only approved old rates, pending consultation with other stakeholders, particularly the Ministry of Finance.
“Ministry of Finance has not given us the green-light to increase the fees. I know it is going to be tough for Uneb, but for purposes of not delaying registration, we decided to go with the old figures,” she said.
The delay in decision making and the resulting sharp difference in opinion between Uneb and the Ministry of Education has created a pensive mood among head teachers, students and parents.
It should be noted that first term of the academic calendar during which candidates usually register to take final level examinations is ending next week, but without clarity on registration or associated fees to be paid.
Uneb officials yesterday said if their proposed rates were not honoured, they would grudgingly begin preparations for the national examinations but without guarantees how things will end.
Almost one million primary and secondary students register each year to take national exams.
The marking of last year’s examinations were chaotic, with 32,000 examiners not paid to-date, and release of results delayed by more than a month.
Uneb continues to be indebted to its service providers and host examination marking centres, officials said yesterday.
“We have been having financial challenges. What we collect from candidates is much less than what we spend on them to set the examination, administer it, mark it, release the results and issue certificates,” Mr Kaheru said.
The government sponsors the biggest number of candidates each year under its universal education programmes both at primary, secondary and post primary levels.
In the ongoing budgeting process, a Parliamentary Committee has expressed concern over a government proposal to slash the already meagre capitation grant.
Earlier, Mr Mathew Bukenya, the Uneb executive secretary, said the low charges have pushed them into debts with service providers.
He said: “We have not cleared some suppliers, some marking centres and have not yet paid some examiners who participated in last year’s exercise.”
The examinations process overall is way behind schedule, and it is unclear when schools will get the nod to begin registering candidates.