Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Executive Secretary of the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), Dan Odongo has finally come out to clear the air as regards to registration for candidates at different levels and examinations in 2020 following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact.
As parents, teachers, and students in candidate classes continue to show fear on how the registration and examination process will be handled this year, Odongo has made it clear that a solution will definately be found.
Following the closure of schools due to the COVID -19 pandemic that has hit Uganda and the world at large, the education calendar was effected and this has since pushed some educationists to propose the possible postponement of the national examinations since coverage of the syllabus will be disrupted.
However, in an interview with Uganda Radio Network (URN), Odongo who attests that without a doubt this year’s examination cycle has been disrupted, still believes that it will eventually be taken forward per guidance by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
The Executive Secretary says they have been notified by the Education Ministry that although the education calendar might be altered, it will certainly be completed before learners are assessed and examinations will certainly be pushed from their known dates.
Usually, the National Examinations begin around early October and end in early December. But, Odongo says that this year the examinations might even start in late November or December or even a later date depending on the circumstances.
He, however, adds that even though the country has been on lockdown, UNEB will not compromise on standards and therefore he urges candidates to make sure that they use every opportunity and platform put in place by government and schools to study across the curriculum.
When the lockdown was extended for the second time; the Education ministry developed a framework to enable the continuity of learning during the lockdown where learners in primary and secondary are taught on radio and televisions in addition to self-study material that is yet to be distributed.
Despite the high criticism, the initiative is facing, the ministry has asked for benefit of doubt and also noted that upon school reopening there will be enough time allocated to the schools to run through the curriculum. However, everything remains unclear since there is no guarantee that schools will open anytime sooner.
Although there have been calls from different forums asking the examinations board to start thinking of other methods of assessment. Odongo notes that the situation has not yet warranted such interventions. “In any case, continuous assessment and considering learners’ past performance as a way to award of the certificates as some people have been suggesting could be even more difficult to conduct at such a time,” he says.
Meanwhile, When president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni sent all school going children at home, the examinations’ body halted the registration process which was due to begin at the time. However, midway of the lockdown, they opened up online portals for schools to submit candidates’ data.
The development attracted backlash from educationists and parents given the fact that a number of schools started to pressurize parents to send the required data and money using electronic means in addition to setting stiff deadlines.
Although late last week the Board’s Principal Public Relations Officer, Jennifer Kalule, said that the entire registration had been called off. This may not be the case as the UNEB’s online registration portal has remained active.
Odongo defends their position on registration by noting that although the portal is open, they have cautioned schools that don’t have student’s data from pressuring parents. According to his explanation, schools which had the required information for registration with them before the lockdown are free to proceed.
He further cautions parents not to fall prey to unscrupulous people asking for money to have their children registered for 2020 national examinations online. “If schools did not collect data before, let them wait, parents should not do anything let them wait,” he emphasizes.
Established by an Act of Parliament in 1983, UNEB has the mandate to conduct and manage national assessment for Primary Leaving Examinations, Uganda Certificate of Education, and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education offering a summative assessment that is intended to evaluate students’ learning at the end of a given cycle to determine who is ready to join the next level of education.
Although Uganda has started to ease several restrictions that had been put in place as a way of fighting the Coronavirus, the date for reopening of schools remain unknown. Countries like Rwanda have announced that schools will reopen as far as September, while others have since indefinitely canceled the 2020 education calendar.