The Uganda National Examinations Board Act, 2021 is now in effect, having been gazetted with a commencement date of April 1, 2021. The Act provides for the continued existence of the Uganda National Examinations Board, the expanded functions and powers of the Board and the Secretariat, management, finances, offenses and penalties. It also repeals the Uganda National Examinations Board Act, Cap 137, of the Laws of Uganda.
The Act also introduces a number of changes and provisions as highlighted below.
CHANGE OF TITLE
Among the changes in the Act is that the Title of the Chief Executive Officer of the Board, who was previously referred to as the Executive Secretary, is now Executive Director
The other major change is with regard to offences and penalties. Offences have been expanded from 7 to 13. The penalties/sanctions with regard to examinations malpractice include terms of imprisonment ranging from six months to five years and fines ranging from 500 currency points to 2,000 currency points (a currency point is equivalent to Uganda shillings 20,000/-). A person can be sentenced to a prison term or a fine or both).
Other offences that have been included are;
- a) Loss or misuse of examination paper material or information by a person who has the examination under his control
- b) Damage or destruction of an examination paper
- c) Impersonation has been broadened to capture those who register or use a false name or identity to lend steal a certificate.
- d) Possession of offensive material and disturbances during examinations
- e) Trespass
- f) Misappropriation of Exam Registration Fees
- g) Charging fees not prescribed by the Board
- h) Nondisclosure of interest in the exam
- i) Improper disclosure of information
- j) Aiding Abetting or Inciting
- k) Withholding information that will likely be relevant or prejudicial to the functions of the Board
CANCELLATION OF RESULTS
The Board may cancel an examination or any part of an examination where it is satisfied that there has been an irregularity in the course of preparation, conduct or supervision of that examination. The Board may also cancel the results of a candidate under the following circumstances;
- a) Copying from each other’s script or work
- b) Assisting another candidate
- c) Possession of text book, or any electronic device
- d) Copying from notes textbook electronic device without permission
- e) Using forged results, to register for an exam
The Act provides for an examination centre to be suspended where the school authority does an act that contravenes its provisions or engages in conduct that is prejudicial to the proper functioning of the Board.
EXPANSION OF BOARD FUNCTIONS
The functions of the Board have been expanded to include
- a) Issuance of certificates where one is lost or destroyed on request by any other person.
- b) Equating foreign qualifications has been clarified
- c) Register a school or any other place as an Examination Centre
- d) Consultancy services and research on educational assessment
- e) Display of registered students at District Headquarters and School notice Boards
EXPANSION OF POWERS
The Board powers have been expanded from 8 to 13. The Board can
- a) Demand for any record or information of any examination where exam malpractice is alleged or reported or proven against a school.
- b) Conduct investigations and withhold results during such investigations
- c) Call for production of any information or the production of any documents the Board may require during the investigations
- d) Institute or commission an inquiry into a case of alleged malpractice
- e) Summon any person Board considers fit to assist as a witness in any inquiry or investigation of exam malpractice
- f) Cancel or Suspend Registration of exam center which is proven to have engaged in malpractice
- g) Recall results of a candidate that were erroneously issued
- h) Appoint supervisors and invigilators etc. to assist in the conduct of examinations
- i) Invite any person as may be necessary to jointly conduct examinations with the Board and jointly award certificates
- j) With the approval of the Minister and Minister responsible for Finance charge Examinations and Registration fees
- k) Request UCC to control the use of any electronic communication for a specified duration where it is suspected that malpractice is being committed using electronic communication
- l) Cancel an exam paper where there has been malpractice of wide magnitude.
REDUCTION OF BOARD MEMBERS
- a) The membership of the Board has been reduced from 32 to 13 following the removal of some positions that no longer exist in the Ministry of Education and Sports structure, and as a result of the passing of the BTVET Act. The membership is also in accordance with good governance practice.
- b) The appointing Authority for the Chairperson was previously the President, but is now the Minister responsible for Education
TENURE OF OFFICE OF BOARD MEMBERS
3 years renewable for only one more term
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S APPOINTMENT
To be appointed by the Minister on recommendation of the Board of Directors for a five – year term, renewable once.
COMPLIANCE WITH THE PUBLIC FINANCE MANAGEMENT ACT 2015
The Board is to deal with finance matters in compliance with the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.