UNEB Board Registration Unsure on what will Happen to 2018 PLE Leavers

By | February 7, 2022

The Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) is at a crossroads with a decision to register 2018 primary school leavers who are in public schools to sit for this year’s Uganda Certificate of Education-UCE examinations.

Towards the beginning of the new academic year, Dan Odongo, the UNEB secretary, informed parents and learners that the board was going to ensure that learners who studied during the COVID-19 lockdown and have the required competence are registered.

This meant that learners who were in P.5 and S.2 before the closure of schools in 2020 could be allowed to sit national examinations. Although at the primary level there is no contention, as the learners have not yet been captured in the UNEB system, one must have spent a minimum of four academic years at the ordinary level of education to be eligible to sit for the UCE.

But, Odongo argued that although the learners might not have spent the required official academic years, the fact is that a section of learners utilised the dead years in the education sector. To him, the learners’ efforts and the resources of parents could not have been in vain.

In a recent circular issued by UNEB addressing the registration of learners for the 2022 national examination series, the board allowed students who were in S.2 in 2020 to register for the examinations. However, this option was only extended to private students, locking out learners under the Uganda Secondary Education-USE.

“Only candidates who have passed PLE or its equivalent and have attended a full lower secondary (four years of ordinary level) may be registered for UCE examinations.” Candidates who took the PLE in 2017 or earlier are eligible to register. UNEB is aware that some candidates who sat PLE in 2018 adapted to distance learning and the progress of their learning was not interrupted by the lockdown. Such candidates identified by the school may register for UCE. Candidates registering under USE must be those who sat for PLE in 2017 only, “the circular reads in part.”

An official from the ministry of education and sport who is privy to the matter told URN that the government has always had a policy of not paying registration fees for repeaters, thus limiting the funds to learners from one specific year.

With his argument considered, this year is different given the fact that learners who are requesting to be added to the programme are the ones who sat for PLE a year later than the considered year. The official says the government allowed students to be automatically promoted to the next class without skipping two classes.

“Automatic promotion was from the classes they occupied before lockdown to the next class. Those who were in senior two were promoted to senior three, not senior four. Actually, the ministry advised schools to abuse this directive by making learners repeat classes against their wish or skipping classes, “the source said.

Jennifer Kalule Musumba, the UNEB spokesperson, says the issue has generated debate between the board and the education ministry. Musumba adds that the circular that our reporter saw has been recalled to ensure that the issue is fully settled and that later the final decision will be communicated to schools and the general public.

With the jury set to decide on the matter, the source at the education ministry notes that if the ministry challenges the registration of 2018 primary levellers on government sponsorship, there is a likelihood of also stopping the private students so as to avoid bias.

It’s a puzzling issue. If a learner on USE is assessed and fit for the examinations, having continued studying during the lockdown, why do you lock him or her out while you have allowed their counterparts on private arrangement to register? It is difficult to allow a section of learners and lock another outside. But I am not the one who calls the shots, “the source added.

Emmanuel Ssempiira, the dean of studies at Kampala High School, says a number of parents have already approached them, claiming that their learners have covered the senior three content during the lockdown and, therefore, they should be allowed to register for national examinations.

Ssempiira says that it’s good that UNEB has scheduled registration at the beginning of the academic year to avoid confusion. He, however, notes that Kampala High School is a public school and will go by the decision of the government.

Peter Opolot, the deputy headteacher in charge of academics at Old Kampala Secondary School, says if the learners who were in S.2 want to run fast and UNEB has given them an opportunity, they should foot the bill.

The educationist who is presiding over a non-use school is, however, pessimistic that there is any student who could have adequately prepared more so in subjects that require practical skills.

Meanwhile, for the senior six examinations, the board said that only candidates who have passed UCE and obtained the Uganda Certificate of Education in 2019 or earlier are eligible to be registered for the 2022 UACE examination.

Candidates registering under “Universal Post O” Level Education & Training-UPOLET must be those who sat for UCE in 2019 only.

Furthermore, UNEB has not changed its registration fees for private candidates. This means candidates in the primary will pay 34,000, UCE candidates will pay 164, 000, and those in the UACE will pay 186,000.

According to the examination body’s schedule, the registration of candidates is expected to run from February 1 to May 31, 2022. The deadline for late registration has also been set at June 30, with a 50% surcharge.