Address causes of exam malpractices

Monday February 3 2020


By Samson Tinka

Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) released Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results on January 17. As it has always been the case , examination release is associated with hope, anxiety, fear, and celebrations. The 2019 PLE results came with news of 1,512 pupils’ results being withheld on allegations of exam maltpractices. The Uneb executive secretary, Mr Dan Odongo, cited external assistance of the candidates, among others, for withholding the results. But whatever the reasons, several questions still remain unanswered.
Let’s address ourselves to the entire cycle of Uneb exams - the entire process of exam setting, transportation, storage, administration of exams, marking, grading and announcing, releasing of results - is the responsibility of Uneb. Therefore, Uneb is fully responsible for the exams and associated outcomes. Often, the biggest challenges are registered at the level of transportation to and administering exams in schools.
In an effort to ensure that exams are done under full Uneb supervision, Uneb scouts and invigilators are deployed. They are people picked, trained, appointed and deployed by Uneb. These would secure the environment free from any exam malpractice given that examination rooms are out of bounds to all non- Uneb officials.
Therefore, Uneb invigilators and scouts should assume any liability associated with exams management. This implies that any malpractice, especially external assistance, copying, impersonation (students who sit for fellow students), the scouts and invigilators should be held responsible.
The withholding and later cancelling of pupils/students results is such a big issue that should not be allowed to continue. Uneb may not know the kind of problems it causes students, parents, teachers, schools, guardians and other stakeholders whenever it withholds or cancels students’ results. In cases of withheld results, the affected parties would like to know what is done to the invigilators and scouts, who ideally failed to safeguard the exams. These are the people who should be punished and not the students.
Besides, how, at what point do affected students become suspects or accomplices? Withholding their results is a form of persecution. While some pupils faint and sometimes get admitted to health facilities, others opt to go for counselling sessions due to withholding of their results. How do you explain this to especially student victims who might not have participated in exam malpractices?
A head teacher told me that in 2006, a group of teachers who were envious of his school’s good performance, accused his school of cheating exams. What saved him was that on the particular day when exams done, the district inspector of schools was at our school and he did register any malpractice.
As a way forward, Uneb should target its scouts and invigilators, not pupils and schools.
Samson Tinka,