Bill seeking to punish exam cheats welcome

Thursday August 06 2020

On Tuesday this week, Uganda Examinations Board Bill was tabled in Parliament. The Bill seeks to have anyone caught cheating national examinations jailed for 10 years or pay a fine of Shs40 million or both.

According to the Bill, individuals who misappropriate examination registration fees for candidates will also be subjected to the same punishment. (See “Examination cheats face 10 year imprisonment” in the Daily Monitor August 5).

During the release of Primary Living Exams, Uganda Certificate of Education and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education exams results has always come with announcements of malpractice, which usually sees some schools and candidates having their results withheld.
The frequent occurrence of malpractice seems to rationalise the crime, with unscrupulous individuals gladly perpetrating it.

Few people ever bother to find out what happens to the suspects. If the new Bill is passed into law and implemented without fear or favour, then perhaps national exams in Uganda, will clear the ugly blot that malpractice has become.

When the 2019 PLE results were released, 1,512 pupils had their results withheld on allegations of exam malpractice. For UACE of the same year, 126 students had their results withheld. Similar pronouncements are made every time Uneb exam releases results at nearly all levels. While some arrests of perpetrators have been made, the unending recurrence of the crime proves the fact that more needs to be done to deter it.

The Uganda National Examinations Board Act, 1983, states that any person who knowingly or negligently reveals the contents of any examination material to an unauthorised person, whether a candidate or not; with intent to fail or pass a candidate, alters the work, data, information or scores of a candidate; wilfully and maliciously damages examination material; with intent to impersonate, presents or attempts to present himself or herself in the place of an enrolled candidate; with intent to gain employment or admission, presents a forged certificate or diploma purported to have been issued by the board; sells, buys, borrows, lends or steals certificates or diplomas issued by the board with intent to impersonate; withholds any information which is prejudicial or is likely to be prejudicial to the proper functioning of the board, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Shs50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or to both the fine and imprisonment.

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There is need for a bigger and more heavy penalty to deter criminals. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of the end of exam malpractice in schools, for candidates, invigilators and other stakeholders.

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