The Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) has recorded a marked decrease in examination malpractice during the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams.
This was revealed by the UNEB Board Chair, Professor Mary Okwakol, during the release of the 2022 UCE results.
According to statistics from the UNEB, the number of examination results being withheld due to suspected malpractice has decreased to 1,035, compared to 1,292 in 2020 and 1,825 in 2019.
The Executive Director of UNEB, Dan Odongo, stated that the majority of reported cases of cheating were in science subjects such as physics, chemistry, and mathematics. He also noted that the most frequent forms of malpractice recorded were external assistance, collusion among candidates, and script substitution.
Additionally, Odongo noted that impersonation is becoming a new and more sophisticated form of cheating, with candidates hiring others to sit exams for them.
During the examination period, UNEB was able to apprehend several imposters, with some already having been charged and sentenced, while others are out on bail. For example, UNEB officials were shocked to discover that administrators at Kawempe Standard SS, along with a parent of a candidate, had taken impersonation to a new level.
The parent funded the registration of a Senior Three student from another school to sit the exams on behalf of her daughter, but the scheme was discovered by a suspicious supervisor.
The parent has since been found guilty and fined 4.8 million Shillings after admitting to the charges. The other suspects, including the head teachers, are facing trial after denying the allegations.
Professor Okwakol also stated that there is evidence that a lack of proper candidate briefing is contributing to instances of cheating, as some candidates engage in malpractice due to their ignorance of what constitutes cheating during exams.
Odongo attributes the decrease in reported cases of cheating to the new measures implemented by the UNEB, including the introduction of a new act that provides stringent measures and punishments.
Even before the implementation of the new law, UNEB had already introduced various new measures to enhance examination security. These measures included the use of random numbers, the delivery of examination materials closer to the start time of the exams, and a change in the process for selecting examination officials.
For example, in 2019, UNEB adopted a strategy of choosing examination officials from different parts of the country as part of its efforts to reduce the potential for colluding with schools.
Officials in Kampala, for instance, were selected from distant areas such as Soroti to mitigate this risk.
The Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataaha Museveni emphasized that going forward, the UNEB should take advantage of the new act, which provides for punitive measures for those found guilty of engaging in or promoting cheating. She also suggested that the board should indefinitely cancel examination centers of the affected schools.