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Makerere students displeased with postponement of exams

Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics Professor Umar Kakumba says MUELE platform was incapacitated to hold operations of up to 3,000 students at ago. File Photo 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University students are disappointed about the postponement of the real-time online exams to next week. According to the initial program, the students were expected to start writing their exams on Monday, September 13 until September 30, 2021.

However, the university postponed the real-time online exams. Professor Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics, says that tests done by the Directorate of ICT Support- DICTS indicated that the Makerere University e-Learning Environment (MUELE) platform was incapacitated to hold operations of up to 3,000 students at ago.

“A stress test carried out on the capacity of MUELE servers were run through administering a quiz on Saturday last week. Whereas 4,813 users were online, only 2,474 equivalent to 51.4 percent were able to complete with submission of their work,” Kakumba said in a circular issued on Sunday. Adding that, “From the stress test results, it is evident that MUELE does not yet permit inclusive participation in real-time exams.”

Kakumba explained that the suspended exams would be held from September 20 to September 30, 2021, to give time to the Directorate of ICT Supports to upgrade it for a larger number of students. Last week, the University installed two new servers in addition to the one that MUELE had been running on. The postponement of the exams has not gone down well with the students.

Rolland Baguma, a student from College of Business Administration and Management told URN that he travelled from upcountry to hostel purposely for two weeks to complete his exams. He however said that he will have to incur more costs on sustenance if such communications keep coming up.

This is not the first time the University has postponed the examination period. Continuing students had prepared to sit exams on June 7, 2021, only to be interrupted by the nationwide lockdown announced to halt the second wave of COVID-19. Since then, the university has gambled to administer alternative modes of assessment.

On its first attempt, the exams were extended to one week after September 6, 2021, to Monday this week. On Sunday night, students received notices from their lecturers through class WhatsApp groups that real-time exams had been postponed, a night before the assessment.

Esther Nekesa, a student from the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology, who was meant to sit for her examination at midday notes that abrupt changes in time tables is a sign of confusion the university should first deal with. According to her, it is costing their time as they’ve intensely revised for the same exams more than three times.

Some other students like those from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Health Sciences and College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences will carry on with their examinations as most of their modules will be done as take-home assignments. Some of these assignments will last three days to a week to cater for students with various challenges.

A survey carried out by the student guild on 3,884 students indicated that the majority preferred take-home assignments at 37.6 percent compared to real time assessment at 12.7 percent. Among some of the reasons given for the preference was lack of gadgets to support online exams, high costs of data and unreliable network on MUELE.

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