Kampala- The investigation into leaks of national examinations has revealed that the syndicate extends beyond storage facilities at police stations and sub-counties to some officials and agents inside the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb).
In our story in Monday's edition, Uneb had told Daily Monitor that their investigations into the examination malpractice had traced the leaks to police stations and sub-counties where the exams are stored in transit to schools and that about 50 teachers and a police officer had been apprehended.
However, further investigations by Daily Monitor established that some unscrupulous individuals in Uneb, some holding senior or influential positions, who are involved in setting and packing the examinations before they are dispatched to schools, are part of a wider and complex network that leak exams, but hard for the Board to identify.
Sources said the exams are also leaked during the packing process after the printing. The source did not elaborate how this is executed given Uneb’s stringent checks during the printing process.
Uneb confiscates telephones for those examiners, markers, packers and printers who report to work with them during their set period.
They enter those secured places with only their clothes and are provided food throughout that period.
Those involved in printing don’t leave the printery until the last examination paper is done. Communication with their relatives is cutoff all this time that even when one dies inside the printery during the process, your the body is kept until the whole process is complete.
Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) chairperson, conceded that leaking/cheating of examinations has been aided at both school level, Uneb and district.
He said invigilators connive with scouts and schools to release examination contents ahead of the scheduled time, while at Uneb level, officials within the system who are involved in setting and packing the examinations are key in leaking the exams.
“All those practices are common. Students share the questions before they have even reached the police. Examiners are hired to go and coach the students. They coach the students the numbers they set in the name of remedial work,” Mr Tumuhimbise said.
He said commercialisation of education has further fuelled the vice, with schools turned into businesses. He called on Uneb to improve the pay for those involved in the examination chain to reduce the temptation to leak exams.
“The money they are paid is too little compared to the responsibilities. Invest more in the management of the examinations. Otherwise, we shall continue getting faulty results. We will see patients dying, buildings collapsing because we have fake doctors, engineers who were ill-trained,” Mr Tumuhimbise added.
Some of the people Daily Monitor spoke to, who have been involved in invigilating national exams at Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE), said they are paid Shs30,000 for the two days the examinations are conducted. The invigilators use this money to meet their transport costs and if the school where they are posted doesn’t provide lunch, the same amount also meets their bills for meals.
However, a source at Uneb, who declined to be named, insisted yesterday that working with the Board is optional and those who feel the money is little, have a right to turn the offer down. The source said the Uneb rates vary from paper to paper and the level of education being examined. The source added that their rates range between Shs300 and Shs1,200 to mark an examination script.
For scouts, they can leave with Shs250,000 after two days of their work and markers can take home at least Shs350,000 for two weeks at the marking centres.
However, sources said an individual may leave with only Shs100,000, especially if they are not conversant with how the system works.
On the issue of remuneration, Mr Dan Odongo, the Uneb executive secretary, said yesterday: “There is never money which is enough. Those who come are professional. We tell them what we are paying them is not enough compared to the work they do. It is just a token.”
In an earlier interview on Monday, Mr Odongo admitted there are some unscrupulous officials or agents/representatives of Uneb who are engaged in inappropriate conduct in the examinations chain.
He confirmed that he had previously received complaints on examiners who are hired in schools to do remedial work with candidates in certain schools. However, he added that once Uneb gets the information, the culprits are immediately deleted from the Uneb system.
He further explained that although they invite the examiners every year to set exams, their questions are not usually immediately used that very year. He said there are instances where Uneb pick examination questions from the sample which were submitted eight years back, which makes it difficult for the setters to predict what will be asked.
However, a retired teacher, who is conversant with the scam network in Uneb and schools, said yesterday that examiners have mastered the art and are on payrolls of some schools to coach their students during the second and third term of the academic year.
“Some of these schools with big financial muscle work with insiders in Uneb and give exam papers to the schools in advance. When they give them the papers, they set them as weekly tests, which the students do, especially in second and third term. They keep changing the questions. By the time these exams come, the candidates have mastered the answers,” said the retired teacher and a former Uneb examiner.
The source said schools hire examiners, mainly those who have worked with Uneb for more than five years and are able to recall the kind of questions they asked previously, which are reproduced for the students to practice.
In such instances, the retired teacher said it is difficult for Uneb to identify the culprits during examination marking because the candidates were exposed to the papers early enough and mastered the different techniques.