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UCE briefing: Candidates advised against using face masks to smuggle unwanted materials

A candidate at Kisasi College School reads UNEB’s guidelines during the briefing session on Friday afternoon. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Senior four candidates have been advised not to misuse face masks to smuggle unwanted materials into the examination rooms. The caution was made by headteachers while briefing learners ahead of the ahead of the 2020 Uganda Certificate of Education examinations which are starting on Monday, March 1.

The Uganda National Examinations Board has allowed candidates to wear face masks during the examination as part of the standard operating procedures to ensure that candidates don’t contract the deadly coronavirus.  But teachers fear that desperate candidates might want to use them to smuggle small pieces of paper with answers into the examination room.

Thomas Lwanga Seruwagi, the headteacher of City High School told learners that emphasis is going to be put on checking masks to ensure that no unwanted material is sneaked into the examination room.

Sarah Birungi, the deputy headteacher at Bukoto High School also observes that masks might cause problems. “You see there are some crafty learners who will imagine that the masks are a good way to smuggle material into an examination room and this could cause problems for the entire centre. We have warned our candidates not to do that because they will be caught,” she said.

Ali Baringa, the Dean of Academics at Kisaasi College School also warned candidates and reminded them of the likely penalty and the likelihood of one’s action to affect his colleagues at the same centre.

According to UNEB’s guidelines and rules, any candidate found involving himself/herself in malpractice in the examination may be disqualified, arrested, and handed over to the police. But there is a possibility of nullifying the results of all candidates at the centre in question.

Regarding malpractice, Jennifer Kalule, UNEB’s spokesperson highlights that there is a need for teachers to keep emphasizing the guidelines so that learners understand scenarios that can lead to their suspension.

Meanwhile Daniel Okello, a teacher at City High School advised the candidates to maintain the diets that they are accustomed to. “Please eat school food and keep away from the oily things sold at the school canteen,” Okello said and recalled a candidate in 2019 who had a stomach upset because they ate roadside chips the day before the exam. “They almost did not sit for the examination. Please, do not become adventurous. Stick to what you are used to,” he said.

At some schools, learners were also advised to carry their hand sanitisers to keep safe during the period. The learners were also advised not to eat food that they are not used to.

The deputy headteacher of Gayaza Road Secondary school Henry Kimuli notes that in addition to the focus given to SOPs, they have emphasized timekeeping as checking of the candidates is expected to begin earlier this year.

The briefing is one of the mandatory activities that prepare learners for the final examinations. During the sessions, the head of the examination centre takes candidates through the general instructions and rules of the examination.

A total of 333,889 candidates from 3,935 centres are expected to sit for the UCE examinations this year. The candidates would have sat their examinations last year around October, however due to school closure from the COVID-19 pandemic, the school calendar was revised.

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