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Suspects in UNEB Exam Cheating Case Seek Out-of-Court Resolution

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Ten individuals accused of engaging in examination malpractices have approached the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) seeking resolution as the investigation into their actions continues. The suspects, including headteachers, a sitting center director, an invigilator, and a scout, are currently under investigation for allegedly compromising the security of Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) papers.

Annet Kamaali, UNEB senior legal officer, revealed that the board possesses information indicating that the suspects interfered with the security envelope holding PLE papers on the initial day of the examination. The alleged illegal activities involved cutting open the security envelope, capturing photographs of the contents, and sharing them on various social media platforms.

The standard procedure for distributing examinations involves the distributor being escorted by a security officer, often a police personnel. Exams are then delivered to schools, handed over to the scout and chief invigilator in the presence of the headteacher. Sealed papers are taken directly to the examination room and opened only after the prescribed start time.

However, discrepancies emerged when exams designated for an undisclosed school, currently under investigation, were allegedly redirected to the headteacher’s office by the scout, chief invigilator, and headteacher, deviating from the established protocol.

Kamaali stated that those involved in these activities were caught in the act, leading to the apprehension of some suspects found with incriminating content on their phones. They are now in police custody, awaiting court where they will face charges related to examination malpractice.

During a meeting with UNEB Executive Director Dan Odongo, the suspects insisted on their innocence. Odongo expressed bewilderment about their presence at UNEB, reproaching them for engaging in criminal activities. He emphasized that UNEB does not make resolutions and advised them that the matter would follow legal procedures.

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The UNEB Act stipulates significant consequences for individuals involved in damaging examination materials, taking unauthorized photos, and attempting to provide external assistance to students. Convictions may result in a fine of 20 million Ugandan Shillings, a five-year jail term, or both.

Despite UNEB’s ongoing efforts to curb malpractice, critics argue that the persistent prevalence is rooted in the high stakes associated with national exams. Some advocate for exploring alternative assessment methods, such as formative assessments, to alleviate the pressure on students and discourage malpractice.

The Education Policy Review Commission is currently scrutinizing the education sector to formulate a comprehensive white paper, expected to serve as a blueprint for the future of education in Uganda. There are suggestions from certain quarters advocating for the complete elimination of some national exams, such as PLE.

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