Over 2,500 candidates missed sitting UCE exams

Sunday August 01 2021

Students of Mpoma Royal College Mukono: Ronald Okiror, who got Aggregate 19 (left), and Pius Ogenrwoth, who scored Aggregate 12 (right), celebrate with their head teacher Timothy Okiring at their former school on Friday . PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By Elizabeth Kamurungi

The Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, has tasked the ministry’s  technical team to account for the  thousands of candidates who register for exams but never turn up to write their papers.
Statistics from the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) indicate that 2,804 of the 333,396 candidates who registered to sit for the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams last year did not show up.
The Uneb numbers, however, contradict those in the minister’s statement that put the number at 2,468.
“We must account for students who register but do not show up for exams. Therefore, I would like my Permanent Secretary to work with Uneb and trace where these 2,468 students are. What happened to them?” she said.
The number of students who didn’t sit exams makes up 0.8 per cent of the total candidates registered.
In her speech, the minister partly attributed the high number of absenteeism to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and parents who neglected their responsibility for their children’s education.
“A natural phenomenon like the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a harsh reminder of the necessity of establishing an affordable and accessible public secondary school in each sub-county. It is possible that some of O-Level candidates whose schools could not reopen, were unable to find a nearby alternative and affordable schools to complete their O-Level studies from,” she said.
The 2020 academic year was disrupted by the pandemic-induced closure of all learning institutions in March last year.
Consequently, the candidates sat the exams in March and April this year. The effect has spilt over to the 2021 academic year and experts warn that more learners could be lost.
To remedy this, the minister said 95 secondary schools will be established as soon as the country is out of the pandemic.  Ms Museveni also said parents need to play an active role in keeping their children in school as opposed to leaving the entire responsibility to government.
“I would like to remind my fellow Ugandans that education is a shared responsibility by the parents and guardians, State and non-State actors. It takes the participation of the parent and guardian for the learner to gain the most out of his or her learning experience in a school setting. It does not matter if government puts these facilities in place, but the parents and guardians fail to play their role in ensuring that the child attains an education,” she said.
Ms Museveni, however, said despite a huge number missing out on examinations, the trend has improved.
“It is gratifying to note that over the last five years, there has been a consistent downward trend in the proportion of Senior Four candidates who register for UCE but fail to sit the exams,” she added.
Uneb also reported a drop in the number of candidates registered to sit for exams by 4,324 from 337,720 in 2019.