Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a significant development, Buganda Road Court has remanded six individuals, including teachers and headteachers, to Luzira prison on charges related to alleged examination malpractice.
The accused individuals, namely; Daniel Oleja, Michael Ijalla, and Nasser Sekandi, are all teachers from schools in Wakiso, while their co-accused, Tendo Lukyamuzi, Henry Mirembe, and Emmanuel Oketch, are headteachers from various primary schools in Kasanda and Kikuube districts. They stand accused of purchasing purported National Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) papers.
The exact names of the schools involved in the alleged malpractice have not been disclosed, as investigations are still ongoing. The charges brought against the six suspects relate to unauthorized possession of examination materials under Section 25 of the UNEB Act, 2021.
According to Court proceedings, the accused individuals, along with others who are currently at large, were found in possession of information allegedly related to the 2023 PLE question papers for subjects including English, Science, SST, and Mathematics. These alleged crimes transpired during the months of September and October 2023 in the vicinity of Kampala.
Reportedly, the accused operated a WhatsApp group through which they invited both school headteachers and members of the public to join and purchase PLE question papers intended for this year’s primary seven candidates. The new UNEB Act stipulates that anyone who attempts to gain possession of examination materials commits an offense, liable to a fine or imprisonment, or both.
In addition to the UNEB Act, individuals involved in the use of social media to facilitate examination malpractice may be held accountable under the Computer Misuse Act of 2011, as per guidelines established by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in 2017.
The accused vehemently denied the charges, and investigations into the matter are still underway. The suspects were informed of their right to apply for bail. However, they were unable to provide suitable sureties, and those who could lacked introductory letters from their Local Councils (LCs) confirming their residence.
According to the magistrate, the chief justice’s bail guidelines necessitate that an applicant must furnish an introductory letter from their Local Council (LC) as proof of residence. Consequently, the accused individuals have been remanded to Luzira prison until October 30, 2023, as investigations continue.
The issue of examination malpractice in Uganda remains a significant concern, often leading to the withholding of results. One contributing factor is the commercialization of the education sector. Each year, a substantial number of examination results are withheld due to malpractice, which has been attributed to weak legal frameworks.
With the enactment of the new UNEB Act, the board has implemented a more robust mechanism to detect and address suspected malpractice, leading to the arrest and prosecution of those involved.
Social media has also become a prominent tool for malpractice, with teachers and accomplices using platforms to share examination content before and during the exams. Notably, last year, a group of teachers from Masaka were discovered leaking PLE scripts to candidates via social media. Furthermore, another group was apprehended on the examination day while attempting to unlawfully access sealed PLE papers.
Beyond these instances, fake examination papers have circulated on social media platforms in previous years, causing distress to schools and candidates. As the 2023 national examinations approach, with 1,224,371 candidates registered across different education levels, the issue of examination malpractice continues to be a priority for educational authorities.
The national examinations are scheduled to commence on October 13, with the briefing of UCE candidates, continuing until November 17, 2023. PLE is set to take place from November 7 to 9, 2023, and UACE from November 10 to December 1, 2023.