May 18, 2024

Fighting exam malpractice

The cancellation of exam results is one of the major weapons the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) deploys to fight examination malpractice. While the UNEB Act, 2021 also provides for the suspension, among other penalties, of the exam centre if the school authorities are involved, the cancellation of results is seen as the most severe action, with devastating effects on students.  

Yet organised exam cheating by students can hardly pass unnoticed by the school and UNEB officials in the examination hall. In light of the recent cases of exam malpractice, Agnes Kyotalengerire sought views from actors in the education sector about the current exam malpractice punishment regime.

Ketty Driciru, a teacher at Arua Public Primary School

Sometimes the candidates’ exam results get cancelled but this is wrong because they are innocent. It is the school leaders who are supposed to be punished instead. It is the school leadership that should be blamed for exam cheating.

Godfrey Busobozi, the national chairman of the coalition of private teachers’ associations and unions

Examination malpractice should be looked at it holistically so we find the source of the problem and apportion blame. For example, the examination parcel could be opened before the examination papers reach the school due to negligence by UNEB. Some people could connive with the police to leak exams or impostors could get into exam rooms. Or the school arranges for a teacher to enter the examination hall and lecture. It could also be a child who had prior access to the paper and has written all the answers on their body parts. Punishing children alone is very unfair because it lets the others who are part of the exam cheating chain go scot-free. For examination malpractice to happen there has to be someone who slept on the job.

Godfrey Busobozi

Patrick Kaboyo, technical advisor at Education Advocacy Network

Every school has got core values, and I do not think there is any school that has cheating on examinations as one of the values. So, by cheating, schools go against their own values. The board of governors who supervise schools are responsible. The chair of the school management committee should be held accountable if a primary school is involved. If it is a secondary school, the chairperson of the board of governors takes the blame. Examination malpractice is an indicator of a governance breakdown. The laws have not been holding those responsible to account. But the UNEB Act should now be able to protect innocent children and place the responsible people at the scene of a crime.

Patrick Kaboyo

Cissy Kagaba, former head of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda

Examination malpractice has been happening in this country for a long time. Examination malpractice reflects the level of corruption that exists in this country. Children should not be blamed because they are innocent. The adults should be held accountable.

Dr Lawrence Eron, dean of the faculty of Special Needs and Rehabilitation, Kyambogo University

Administratively, the person who is charged with managing the institution is its accounting officer. The head teacher plays an administrative and functional role and is responsible for all actions that happen at a school. A case of exam malpractice should be properly documented and reported and the students should not be held responsible alone. Action should also be taken against those who aid cheating.

Leonida Kababitto, Head teacher Kawaruju Primary School, Kyenjojo

The UNEB officials who supervise the candidates in the exam halls should be penalised.They are trained and have rules and regulations for conducting exams. If something goes wrong, they should be held to account. If a student got the paper before the exam, it is important to understand the source of that paper. The examiners should always try to understand the source of the exam cheating problem.

Jackline Nyambogo, Headteacher Ogenda Girls High School, Packwach

I blame the school because it means they did not prepare and build confidence in the learners to believe in themselves. But the learners should also be blamed for a lack of preparation. The learners are supposed to get 25% of their content through research. When you learn through your own research, you understand better and easily remember what you learnt.

Jackline Nyambogo

Baguma Filbert, general secretary at Uganda National Teachers Union

If the children produce the same work, the suspicion is that they shared work in the examination hall. Then the question that rises is: where was the invigilator when all that was happening? The invigilator is paid to oversee the examination process. The law should catch both the learners who cheated and the invigilator who was in the exam hall when the malpractice occurred. We need to always trace the source and the people responsible should face the law.

Jennifer Kalule, Principal Public Relations Officer, UNEB

The exam regulations are clear and are written on the timetable. If candidates get involved in malpractice, they are primarily responsible. This time round the timetable was released early to allow parents and learners to read the regulations.

The candidates have to know, and that is why we brief them before sitting examinations. Getting involved in malpractice can lead to the cancellation of all your results. We do not just cancel the results. The candidates are given a fair hearing and, if the candidates convince the tribunal they are innocent, the charges get dropped.

In some cases, a UNEB centre number can be suspended. But a number of things have to be looked at before this is done, because, if a centre is closed, some students will have no place to sit exams. We have to protect the integrity of our exam certificates.

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