Friday January 24 2014

Stop the circus at exam body

That all is not well at the Uganda National Examinations Board is no secret. From the start of the year, the news from the national examiner has been disturbing.

First was the revelation that a shortage of funds had compelled the examiner to halt the process of marking A-Level scripts. Then came the news about the impending administrative changes at the secretariat and what now seems to have degenerated into a power struggle which has sucked in the Inspectorate of Government with accusations made against the board chair.

We also do not know which version of events to believe in the story of scanners crashing and an expert being flown in from South Africa to fix the matter. Whereas the board chair says this affected computation of results, the secretariat dismissed his claims, saying the technician was servicing the machines as a matter of routine.

Whatever the fights or disagreements, all managers of Uneb must know that the entire public is watching them considering that the business they conduct touches on nearly each and every life in this country. The interest around exams spans beyond the close to one million students waiting for results.
Organisations will always have internal rifts and challenges and Uneb is no exception. However, how these challenges are managed matters. It is even more crucial for Uneb because it handles a very critical and sensitive aspect of this country’s education system and all related sectors. If fights in Uneb degenerate to the point of the public beginning to question the efficacy of what they produce, then the examiner would have done the country a great disservice.

We appeal to all the players involved in these frivolous fights to stop. Uneb has a long history of doing well amidst the general challenges that most public institutions face. These gains should not begin to dissipate in the face of petty ego fights.
We also call for respect of institutional management procedures on both sides. It is true that a board chair cannot behave like he runs the agency on a daily basis but likewise the secretariat must appreciate the oversight role of the board.