Schools have protested the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) directive not to add any extra charges on the examination registration fees.
The schools say the additional charges to the Uneb fees are for administrative purposes. But Uneb has insisted the schools have no justification to increase examination fees.
Both private and government-aided schools yesterday said they incur costs in transporting the examinations to and from the storage centres, feed the invigilators and buy the science specimen for the practical papers.
They said the extra costs also take care of internet, photographs and provisional certificates after results are out as the students wait for Uneb certificates.
Mr Hassadu Kirabira, the National Private Educational Institutions Association chairperson, said expenditure incurred during the administration of examinations has to be incorporated in Uneb charges since they are the ones who collect the money on behalf of the agency.
“This has been among the controversial issues. There is a way schools are portrayed as a financial opportunistic centre by Uneb. We think Uneb should review its announcement in a most informed way. We incur extra costs related to registration and management of Uneb exams. It’s not only what Uneb requests that the school incurs.
“Many schools in the villages don’t have computers, internet, they incur transport and hire people who help them make these alterations and submissions to Uneb, we pay for Uneb reports,” Mr Kirabira said.
His colleague in government-aided institutions, Mr Martine Okiria Obore, the chairperson of Association of Secondary School Head Teachers of Uganda, said while some schools exaggerate the Uneb fees, he explained the public should appreciate the extra costs they incur in the administration of national examinations.
He said the cost varies from school to school depending on the distance an institution is located from the storage centres which are usually police stations across the country.
“There is an additional cost we incur in the collection of exams, taking them back, feeding invigilators and they are fed well. But this shouldn’t warrant schools to overcharge. My colleagues should be realistic,” Mr Obore said.
Mr Obore added that government withdrew examination funding they used to give schools especially those implementing universal education.
“Government used to give money for exams. For two years now, schools have not received it. I would encourage government to go back to its original programme,” he appealed.
The Uneb spokesperson, Ms Jennifer Kalule, warned schools against misrepresenting them and asked them to instead explain to the parents why they have to charge an extra cost in addition to what Uneb charged.
“We understand that they incur costs. That is why we are saying they should not call it Uneb fees but call it any other name. We don’t want a misrepresentation of calling it Uneb fees. There is some school in Kawempe charging more than Shs200,000 for Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) and calling it Uneb fees. Others are charging Shs300,000, others charging Shs150,000. Uneb fees are clear. We are also being queried,” Ms Kalule said. She declined to say how much Uneb pays invigilators.
However, Mr Kirabira said Uneb pays its supervisors and invigilators between Shs20,000 to Shs30,000 a day.
“What can Shs20,000 facilitate for feeding and transport a day? Some of these schools are far away from trading centres. If the invigilator is to look for food, there is a likelihood that they will come late for the papers. As a school, we have to take care of this,” Mr Kirabira said.
It charges Shs34,000 for PLE, Shs164, 000 for Uganda Certificate of Education exams and Shs186,000 for Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education.
But schools are adding an extra cost with some tripling what Uneb charged.
This in the long run, Mr Kirabira said will keep away children from financially struggling families from completing their respective academic levels.
He appealed to Uneb to extend the five weeks they were given for candidate registration to two months to allow parents pay the fees.
“If you give five weeks at a time schools have just opened, this means this economically poor parent will not be in position to meet the registration fees at the same time have a deposit on school fees to enable the school operate. I will not allow a parent to leave a child minus depositing some fees. Uneb should give us two months to register. If not, some learners will not be able to pay on time and register and this will contribute to dropouts,” Mr Kirabira said.