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UNEB bill proposes stringent penalties for malpractice

UNEB Executive Secretary Dan Odongo

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Government has tabled the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), 2020 amendment bill that seeks to address gaps in the current act. The Primary Education State Minister, Rosemary Seninde tabled the bill in parliament on Tuesday.   

The bill proposes tough penalties for anyone found guilty of exam malpractice. It provides that a person who before or during an examination has in his or her possession any examination paper or material commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 2,000 current points approximately Shillings 40 million or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both. 

The same penalty will apply to misappropriation of examination registration fees and a person who assists or causes a candidate to obtain an examination paper or material. Where the convicted person is a registered teacher, he or she shall be disciplined with relevant laws of the teaching profession. 

Loss or misuse of examination paper, material or information and damaging or destruction of the same  by those having possession is also an offense and on conviction. They will be liable to a fine of 1000 currency points approximately Shillings 20 million or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years. This same penalty is proposed for impersonation. 

The Bill seeks to repeal and replace the Uganda National Examinations Board Act. Cap 137, which was enacted in 1983 and create reforms relating to the administration and management of primary and secondary national examinations and any other examinations the Board may consider necessary.

It also seeks to see the continuation of UNEB as a body corporate, downsize the Board from its current size of 30 members to match the principles of good governance by removing non-existent positions that were affected partly by the restructuring of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in 1998.

“The current Board of UNEB is bloated which contravenes the principles of good governance and puts a huge financial burden on the budget of the Examinations Board. The powers and functions of the Board under the current UNEB Act are narrow and fall short of providing the comprehensive regime that allows the Board to properly conduct credible and quality examinations,” says the Bill. 

The bill also seeks to widen the functions and powers of the Board and make them consistent with other laws, expand offenses and enhance penalties to deter examination malpractice. 

“Since 1983, Uganda’s education system has undergone a number of reforms ranging from legal, institutional and policy framework coupled with the socio- economic changes which have affected the operations of the Examinations Board and implementation of the Act. In addition, since the enactment of the Uganda National Examinations Board Act. Cap 137 in 1983 there are new emerging issues due to the changing educational and technological revolution that require review and additional provisions to address them,” reads part of the Bill seen by Uganda Radio Network.

Some of the highlighted issues that government seeks to address include matters dealing with systematic measuring and monitoring the performance of individual pupils, students, schools.   Government says that the national education system needs to be strengthened and made consistent with other legal provisions and that it is imperative to reform the law as it does not meet current needs and the long-term goals of Government in the education sector.

The other defects in the current law identified by government are that penalties in the current Act are weak and therefore need enhancement to make them more meaningful and deterrent to match the objectives of the regulatory framework.

Government also says that the current Act is not in tandem with the developments in the country for instance several Acts have been passed, which have established examination boards such as Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB) and the Uganda Business and Technical Examination Board (UBTEB). These are responsible for preparing and administering national examinations for Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) and medical institutions. 

Seninde says that the UNEB Act needs to be revised to separate the functions of UNEB from those of newly established examinations boards. The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has referred the Bill to the Education and Sports Committee for scrutiny.

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