At least 45 Senior Four and Senior Six candidates at Green Stars High School in Katabi Town Council, Wakiso District risk missing national examinations this year after their head teacher swindled their exam registration fees.
According to the affected candidates between February and March, Mr Yusuf Mulwana collected Shs5.4m from them and instead of wiring it to Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb) bank account, he pocketed the money.
Ms Annet Kyalimpa, a Senior Six candidate said her mother sent Shs430,000 to Mr Mulwana’ s mobile phone, and part of the money was for registration for national exams and a portion for clearing school fees.
“Unfortunately, the head teacher didn’t pass on the money to the bursar and as we were going for first term holiday my report was confiscated under pretext that I had a debt with the school, which is not true ,” she said during an interview on Wednesday.
Kyalimpa said when she approached Mr Mulwana, he convinced her that he had banked the money.
“For a month now, he has been dodging me and rarely reports to school until I realised that he had conned me. This is when I reported the matter to the school director,’’ she added.
Ronald Kaaya, another affected Senior Six candidate said he learnt that his name was missing on the list of students who cleared exam fees after checking with the school head teacher.
“The deputy head teacher told me my name was missing on the list of those who cleared exam registration fees. I told him I had given the money to the head teacher on the first day I reported for second term. He then told me the money was not captured in their records,’’ he said.
Following numerous complaints from students, Mr Suleiman Turye, the school director alerted police which arrested Mr Mulwana.
On Wednesday, Mr Mulwana appeared before Entebbe Chief Magistrate Ms Mary Babirye on charges of obtaining money by false pretence.
He pleaded not guilty before telling court that he used the money to pay rent and clearing hospital bills for his expectant wife since he had spent six months without receiving salary.
“I had spent six months without getting my salary and when I demanded for it, the school director refused to pay me. That’s why I also decided to pay myself,’’ he said.
Mr Mulwana pleaded with the magistrate not to remand him, saying he is ready to pay back the money.’’
Your worship, I beg you not to remand me because I am the one to taking care of my wife. I am willing to pay back that money,’’ he said.
The magistrate however, remanded him to Kigo Prison until July 22 when hearing of the case is expected to commence.
Mr Turye said has made arrangements with Uneb to ensure that the affected candidates are registered to sit for exams.
“I am doing my best to ensure that our students don’t miss sitting their exams this year,” he said.
Registration of candidates for Uneb exams ended on May 31. However, those who register late have to pay 50 per cent of the total registration fee by June 30.
According to Uneb, candidates sitting Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) in public schools this year have to pay Shs Shs164, 000 yet their counterparts in private schools pay Shs179, 000. Those planning to sit for Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) in public schools pay Shs186, 000 while those in private schools are charged Shs204, 000.
Cases of school heads misappropriating candidates’ exam registration fees are registered almost every year, forcing candidates to miss their exams.
Last year, at least 20 primary seven pupils of Bahrain Nursery and Primary School at Buseyi Village in Iganga District failed to sit for their Primary Leaving Examinations after the school administration allegedly misappropriated money meant for their registration. The pupils had paid Shs80, 000 for registration and shs17, 000 as facilitation for the two-day examination exercise, and an additional Shs7, 000 in pre-registration fees and Shs10, 000 for passport sized photograph
Last November, the Education Minister Janet Museveni said school heads who misappropriate candidates’ registration fees will be penalised once UNEB Bill becomes law.