Uganda Certificate of Education-UCE examinations kicked off on Monday with uncertainty among students and parents in Mubende and Kassanda following the lockdown that was imposed on both districts.
On Saturday, President Yoweri Museveni ordered among others; the freezing of movement of vehicles, boda bodas, and people from Mubende and Kassanda to other districts due to the outbreak of Ebola. However, he left schools open, but without providing alternatives to how the students will reach schools.
On Sunday evening, different meetings held by security personnel, Uneb, and other concerned authorities gave remedies for the travel of UNEB officials. It was agreed that all people who are going to do UNEB work including scouts, supervisors, invigilators, and teachers be given temporary travel passes to allow them to enter Mubende and Kassanda districts.
“It was agreed that they can move. Those from outside the district were advised to get rooms where they can stay for the period they are going to be here. There is no moving in and then getting out. The reason for the lockdown was to limit the movements of people from Mubende and Kassanda,” said Rosemary Byabashaija, the Mubende Resident District Commissioner-RDC.
She however noted that the problem which is not yet solved is the movement of candidates.
“Many learners commute and the basic means of transport is Boda Boda. We have not yet made a general recommendation on this but yesterday we tried to solve some cases as they came. Today, we have asked our people to be accommodative and let these learners go to do their papers. Later in the day, we have several meetings with security and health authorities. The health minister is also expected. All these matters will be discussed in detail,” Byabashaija said.
Tentatively, she added, schools have been advised that if it is possible they prepare for commuting candidates to stay at school to avoid movement it would be the best option.
In Mbarara City, Godfrey Birungi the area examination supervisor Mbarara City said that the headteachers of schools from hard-to-reach areas should find quick means of transport to avoid delays.
In Soroti City, there was fear that the rain experienced on Sunday could disrupt the start of the examinations. At Halcyon High School, where 440 students have registered to sit for UCE exams, Paul Mark Onyait, the Head Teacher said the candidates are prepared.
Tamali Ikengo, the Headteacher of Asuret Seed Secondary School, said that they were ready to pick up the exams at 8:00 am from the Soroti Police Barracks, which is the examination distribution center for the district and the city.
In Kampala City, by 7:20 am, there were only two scouts who had come to collect papers at the Jinja Road Police Station. By 7:40 am the area supervisors arrived and soon with help of the police, opened the container in which the examination papers had been kept. The area supervisors then started arranging registration forms that they would later pack for each examination center. By 8 am, over 13 Uneb officials were waiting to receive examination papers to take to schools.
Kalule Jennifer, the Spokesperson of Uganda National Examination Board-UNEB says that this was done to minimize cheating as it limits the time that school administrators stay with papers before the start of exams at 9 am. “Distribution has been very smooth to the last mile without any interference throughout the country,” Kalule said.
This year’s examinations are expected to be held under strict observance of standard operating procedures for not only Ebola but also Covid-19.
Across the country, a total of 349,445 candidates registered for this year’s UCE Examinations.
On Monday, the candidates doing UCE started with Mathematics paper 1, and later in the afternoon, they will write exams for Mathematics paper 2. In different distribution centers visited by our reporters in Kampala, by 7;00 most supervisors, scouts, and other officials were yet to be deployed.