The Primary Education State Minister, Rosemary Seninde tabled the Bill in parliament on behalf of the Government in July 2020. The Bill was referred to the Education and Sports Committee for Scrutiny. Once amended, the Bill will replace the law that was enacted in 1983.
The object of this Bill is to reform the law that provides for the Uganda National Examinations Board; to regulate and oversee the national examinations, harmonize the Uganda National Examinations Board Act with other existing government laws and policies; to define the powers and functions of the Uganda National Examinations Board concerning preparation; organization and administration of national examinations; to improve the standards and quality of national examinations conducted by the Examinations Board and to address new and emerging challenges affecting the administration and management of national examinations. The Bill seeks to repeal the UNEB Act that was enacted in 1983. There are new emerging issues due to the changing educational and technological revolution that require review and additional provisions to address them. It is therefore imperative to reform the law as it does not meet current needs and the long-term goals of Government in the education sector.
The current Act is not in line with the developments in the Country. Several Acts have been passed, and they establish different examination boards. A case in point is the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB) and the Uganda Business and Technical Examination Board (UBTEB). These are currently responsible for preparing and administering national examinations for Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) institutions and medical examinations. As a result, the UNEB Act needed to be revised to separate the functions of UNEB from those of the newly established examinations boards.
The Uganda National Examinations Board shall register candidates, prepare, conduct, supervise national examinations and award certificates to successful candidates who sit for the examinations.
The Board shall issue certificates of confirmation where the awarded certificate is lost or destroyed as well as determine the equivalency of any other qualification awarded by another examining body.
The Board shall conduct investigations and hearings in case of examination malpractice and where necessary withhold, recall, cancel examination results or suspend examination centres.
The Bill proposes tough penalties for anyone found guilty of exam malpractice. The offender is liable for a conviction to a fine not exceeding the approximate of shs.40 million or a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years or both. These penalties are too heavy for a candidate or anyone to risk for the sake of malpractice; hence they should be able to reduce exam malpractice.
The Bill seeks to see the continuation of UNEB as a corporate body and downsize the members of the Board. The current Board of UNEB is large, which contravenes the principles of good governance and puts a huge financial burden on a budget of the Examinations Board. The powers and functions of the Board under the current Act, fall short of providing a comprehensive regime that allows the Board to conduct credible and quality examinations properly.
The Bill also seeks to address matters dealing with systematic measuring and monitoring the performance of individual pupils, students, schools. This will give a comprehensive assessment of candidates rather than basing their whole primary or secondary school on one examination.
The penalties in the Act are weak and therefore need enhancement to make them more meaningful and deterrent to match the objectives of the regulatory framework. This will strengthen the quality of education provided in the Country and match up to international standards. The Board will also be able to carry out its functions more efficiently while reducing the financial burden on the Government to give it room to divert the excess funds to other urgent sectors hence promoting good governance.