Delays, No Show Of Candidates Characterise First Day Of UCE

Delays in picking appointment letters, a failure by some registered candidates to show up and a delayed start, have characterized the first day of the Uganda Certificate of Education-UCE examinations across the country.

At several schools and the Uganda National Examination Board-UNEB distribution centres that our reporters visited, incidents of candidates starting their exams way past 9 am-the required time of starting-were common, despite the fact that papers were given out at the centre on time.

For instance, at Kitante High School, the paper started at 9;10 a.m, while at Kampala High School there was a delay of almost 47 minutes from the official starting time. Hajji Twaha Lule, the Deputy Headteacher of Kampala High School said the delay was caused by a section of learners who were refuting the names that had appeared on their IDs and official UNEB records.

“Some learners claimed that their names had been changed. We cross-checked over and over and there was no proof of this. The school captured their names as they appear on their PLE results slips. After registration was completed, UNEB emphasized that candidates should crosscheck their registration status and make corrections in their biodata if there are any. These students never complained up to today,” he added.

At Kampala High School, there was another scene of drama as over 45 students who had disappeared after registering turned up for final examinations. Hajji Lule noted that being a government school, they could not stop the learners from sitting the examination given the fact that they were duly registered.

“What they will write is none of our business, these people registered and we never saw them again. I don’t know whether they have been studying or not,” he noted. As those who disappeared after registration resurfaced, eight others who have been attending school didn’t show up on Monday morning.

At Kololo Senior Secondary School, the examination papers were delivered about 20 minutes before 9 am. The school headteacher, Edward Kanoonya said that all their 748 candidates turned up for the examinations despite a few of them coming late, a few minutes to start of the exams.

At the Kawempe Police Station storage facility, several invigilators remained in a queue waiting for deployment letters, long after the papers had been dispatched and by 9:20 a.m, long after nearly all schools had picked their examinations, our reporter observed that at least five invigilators were still waiting for the letters.

As the superior handed them the letters much later, they were instructed to use the quickest possible means of transport papers because examinations were already underway. Similarly in Mukono district, despite examinations being distributed on time, several invigilators had not yet received appointment letters indicating their allocations. 

The UNEB Area Supervisor Constantine Mpuuga Sssajjabi who is also the head teacher of Namilyango College School said that most of the teachers are substitutes called upon to bridge gaps.  He notes that some of the already allocated teachers fell sick and others failed to turn up.

In the schools that our reporters visited in Mukono, exams kicked off without any incident and largely followed the standard operating procedures against COVID-19 and Ebola. Most schools received examination papers from Mukono Police Division while others picked them from Naggalama, Goma and Kisoga-Ntenjeru police stations.

The Headteacher of Hilton High School Gordon Katimbo said the SOPs are necessary to protect learners from contracting deadly diseases. “Once we relax on SOPs, it is even possible that a candidate can contract the disease and fail to complete the paper, no invigilator will risk getting to such a learner and so we find it better to protect them than risking their lives,” Katimbo said.  

The UNEB Scout, Jovita Kobumanzi said enforcing the observing SOPs is one of their deliverable in this year’s examination exercise.

At Kawempe  Mbogo High School, learners started writing their exams at 9:26 am, 26 minutes after the official time. Zainabu Kakeeto, the headteacher said that the delay was caused by the high number of learners because all 200 students had to receive papers before they could start.

In the districts of Omoro, Gulu, and parts of Amuru, the dispatch of the examination papers from the various UNEB centres kicked off smoothly. At least 34 schools, with a population of 3,973 students, under station 404 Gulu Central Police Station picked up their examination papers at exactly 8:30 a.m.

At Gulu High Secondary School in Bardege-Layibi Division, the exam bell rang at exactly 9:03 a.m, while at Gulu College Secondary School the examination kicked off at exactly 9 a.m.

Otti Nyeko Walter, the Area Supervisor for Station 404 Gulu Central Police Station which covers Omoro, Gulu and parts of Amuru District said the good weather has been a blessing for the early dispatch of papers. He noted that most of the school heads had camped at the station to collect papers as early as 7:30 a.m.

Jimmy Owani, the Head Teacher of Gulu Central High School said they picked their examination papers early enough to give them time to kick off the examinations in time. According to Owani, the school registered 134 candidates for this year’s UCE exams out of which 58 are girls.

Watoker Paul, the Headteacher of Koch Ongako Seed Secondary School in Omoro District equally said they picked the examination papers early. The school has registered 43 students, out of which 11 are boys and 32 are girls.

At St. Francis College Kyanamira in Kyanamira sub-county, Kabale district, candidates started their exams at 09:25 am. Theodore Byamukama, the deputy head teacher of the school said that all 53 candidates have turned up for the first paper.  Asked why they had started some minutes past the required time of 9 am, Byamukama said that the first day is always not easy. 

At Kihanga Secondary School in Mparo Town Council, Rukiga district, three out of 168 registered candidates did not show up for the first examination paper according to the head teacher, Rukundo Onesmus Rurihoona.  He said they have not received any communication from the three candidates.

In Kasese municipality, many school administrators picked the first paper from Kasese Central Police station between 8:30 to 8:50 a.m. Rowling Musale, the headteacher of Rift Valley Secondary School said he picked the first examination papers at 8: 45 a.m.. He added that the 17 candidates have been prepared enough and the school has put in place SOPs including the provision of hand washing facilities at the examination hall.

Vension Baluku, the head teacher at Rwenzori Christian Vocation School said despite the heavy rains throughout the night, all their candidates made it to the school. However, he is worried that the heavy rains being experienced currently could disrupt the timely mobility of candidates. 

In the Lango sub-region, most schools received their exam materials early enough to enable them to start on time. At Mentor Secondary School Akwoyo Campus, Giles Denis Ongar, the head teacher told Uganda Radio Network that exams started early enough in line with the guidelines of the Uganda National Examinations Board.

Christine Namirimu, the head teacher of Ikwera Girls Secondary School said that they registered 68 students for the Examinations and received all examination materials in time.

At Lango College secondary school, 24 out of the 120 candidates registered at the school are commuting from their homes after they were suspended for having participated in a strike. The 60 who did not fully clear their fee balances have also been allowed to do the exams.

John Kennedy Olilia, the deputy head teacher in charge of academics at the school said names of candidates who have fees balances will be submitted to UNEB in case they fail to clear the balance.

At Otuke Secondary school in Otuke District, John Onyong, the head teacher said all the 27 candidates have reported for exams and the three who had not fully paid school fees have also been allowed to sit.

Meanwhile, in Kwania district, seven students have not shown up for Exams. At Nambieso Agro Secondary School, a total of 53 candidates registered for the UEC Exams this year but Arnold Mark Ojok, the School headteacher says two of them have not turned up for the Examinations.

One out of the 206 students registered at Abongomola Seed Secondary School did not show up. A similar scenario is reported at Inomo secondary school where four out of the 202 registered candidates did not show up. Joe Robinson Okwir, the school’s head teacher said the school has no information as to why the candidates did not show up.

In Moroto district, at least three students from two schools have not turned up for exams. Two of them are male candidates from Moroto High School and one female from Nadunget Seed Secondary school. Jimmy Odyang, a Director of studies at Moroto High school said the two missing students have been attending classes all along and even participated in last week’s briefing.

Albert Machecho, the head teacher of Nadunget Seed Secondary School said they do not yet have information about the missing candidate.

Across the country, a total of 349,445 candidates registered for this year’s UCE Examinations. On Monday, the candidates started with Mathematics paper 1, and later in the afternoon, they will write exams for Mathematics paper 2.

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