KAMPALA- The Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, has directed all schools across the country to stop blocking candidates who have registered with Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) from sitting for their papers on account of unpaid fees balances.
The directive follows an incident where 15 Senior Six candidates of Iganga Top Care School were barred from sitting their Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) examinations on Monday over uncleared fees.
In her twitter handle, Ms Museveni, also the First Lady, said no one should stop any student who has registered with Uneb from sitting his or her papers.
“I have received reports of students who missed writing their final Uneb exams on account of their schools’ refusal to allow them to sit exams because of school fees balances. This is against standing government policy,” Ms Museveni said.
“No school administrator is allowed to stop any Uneb registered candidate from sitting his/her final exams because of unpaid school fees balances. Exam results of the candidate, however, can be withheld by the school administrators until he/she has cleared all outstanding fees,” she added.
The minister noted that she has instructed the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, and the Uneb executive secretary, Mr Dan Odongo, to investigate this matter and take the necessary action.
Mr Kakooza was by press time still chairing the ministry’s top management meeting.
He said the ministry had managed to convince the school officials to allow the students sit the remaining papers, which the institution’s administrators agreed to.
“I am chairing a meeting. We have sent out teams to investigate this matter. We are looking at the reports and a decision taken shall be communicated,” Mr Kakooza said on phone yesterday.
But it is not clear yet how the students will be graded if Uneb doesn’t honour the students’ request for supplementary papers they missed.
Earlier, Mr Ismail Mulindwa noted that schools which will be implicated in their report risk losing their licences.
“We can’t leave this unprofessional behaviour by some school administrators unpunished. There is no excuse you can give for this. Schools had other options of recovering the money,” Mr Mulindwa said in an interview.
He added: “We have many cases which go unreported. Parents and students are asked to give us information if their children were blocked and we will act. We have been lenient. Our teams are on the ground. We are now going to deregister the schools and they will automatically lose the Uneb centre numbers.”
In a related incident, 13 Primary Seven leavers from Glory Nursery and Primary School had been held hostage by the school over fees balance but have since been released with police help.
The ministry is investigating Rosak Kindergarten and Primary School, Mulago Kampala, King of Kings Secondary School and Top Care school, all in Iganga District, and the list is likely to increase as the public starts to report cases of learners stopped from sitting the national examinations.
Uneb public relations officer, Ms Jennifer Kalule, said in a statement that the board has always advised schools that once they tolerate students to stay in school until the time of examinations, they should be allowed to sit the papers and an alternative measure put in place to recover the money.
Although students appealed to Uneb to give them supplementary examinations for papers they missed on Monday, Mr Odongo said a decision would be reached after officially receiving the request.