The Ministry of Education and Sports has allowed learners who sat their primary school leaving exams in 2018 permission to register for senior four examinations this year.
According to information obtained by our reporter, the decision was made during a meeting between Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB officials and its mother ministry, putting an end to the uncertainty that parents, students, and teachers have been experiencing since the registration window opened.
Dr. Denis Mugimba, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Education told URN a meeting led by Education Minister Janet Kataha Museveni agreed that all learners whether sponsored by the government or not will be permitted to register and sit the O level exams.
“All learners that sat their PLE in 2018 are allowed to register for this year’s UCE examinations provided that they are fit. The first lady says learners who are eligible for the examination should not be locked out by technicalities,” he said.
Mugimba, who promised to issue an official statement on the matter next week, adds that it is now up to the parents to decide whether their children would set or not. “Teachers can provide guidance, but the final decision should be made by the parent and the students. The government will provide more guidance on the subject to ensure that parents and teachers are aware of their responsibilities.”
Mike Masikye Nangosa, the Director of Examinations at UNEB, says the board is already preparing to guarantee that all eligible students are registered. The director adds that the board will ensure that the registration portals are open for eligible students.
In an exclusive interview with URN last year, Dan Odongo, the UNEB Executive Director stated that the board would allow learners who were in senior two before the COVID-19-induced school closure to register as long as their teachers deemed them fit for the examinations.
At the time, Odongo explained that the arrangement was to guarantee that students who continued learning during the school closure were allowed to advance to the next level just to ensure that their efforts for the past two years were not in vain.
However, ever since the registration process began on February 2, there have been heated discussions about the matter as the initial circular from UNEB had barred 2018 primary seven leavers currently under the Universal secondary education-USE system from registering.
According to the circular, for a 2018 primary school leaver to register for the exams, he or she had to be sponsored. This looked discriminatory to many parents and teachers, sparking a debate over how the situation should be handled. The examination authority rescinded its circular and confined registration to 2017 primary seven leavers and those who sat earlier after the subject attracted diverse reactions.
Although the ministry has decided on the topic, sources inside the ministry claim that there are still crucial concerns to be resolved, including funds. According to a source who preferred anonymity, the examination would demand extra financing for the senior four examination procedure as a result of this decision.
“The decision has been made, but there are certain details to be worked out beforehand. For instance, there might be a surge in the number of candidates. Normally, we have slightly more than 300, 000 candidates at this level, but with this announcement, the number might virtually go up to 500,000. This necessitates the addition of more supervisors and examiners and other logistics. The validation process for centre numbers will also be revisited, since certain centres may end up attracting more students than they can handle,” the source said.
The entire process according to the source will push up the examination body’s budget since there is an expectation of more numbers at the primary level given the fact that more parents who had learners in P.5 before COVID-19 have also opted to place them in Primary seven. Going by this narrative, Uganda might have a record candidature at senior four given the fact that there is a group of learners who never sat for UCE in 2020 due to COVID-19 restriction, which saw the candidature at this level drop by 3,808 learners than it was in 2019.
This argument comes at a time when funding in the education sector has been limited.
Recently, Ketty Lamaro, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry told Uganda Radio Network that the Ministry of Finance had told them to budget using the previous year’s indicative figure, which means that there could be no extra funding towards the ministry and its agencies.
Last year UNEB requested additional funding of Shillings 10.465 billion to among other things enable them to handle the increased number of candidates at the primary level and observe Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 during examinations. with a lot of explanations, legislators had refused to approve the supplementary.
However, Dr Mugimba says that the education minister has confirmed that government will at all means look for the funds to ensure that learners comfortably seat for their examinations “The first lady has assured that matters of funding will be handled. This should worry anyone. The examinations are for our students. We shouldn’t delay their learning or progression to the next level when they are due,” Dr Mugimba added.
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