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UNEB To Uphold COVID-19 SOPs During 2022 Examinations

Dan N Odongo, the Executive Director UNEB

This year’s candidate exams will be held in line with the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs, Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has revealed.

According to the UNEB Executive Secretary, Dan Odongo, the move is aimed at ensuring the safety of learners, teachers, examination officials, and everyone involved in the exercise given the fact that the country has not yet been declared COVID-19 free.

Odongo made the remarks while meeting district inspectors of schools in Kampala on Tuesday afternoon.

The announcement means that the examinations, just like those of 2020, will be held under strict observance of the SOPs announced by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

For emphasis, the board has maintained the 2020 examination theme of “Integrity and security in the management of examinations, the health, and safety of learners is a joint responsibility.”

When UNEB implemented COVID-19 SOPs in 2020, they needed an additional 10.5 billion Shillings, which was utilized among other things to help increase the number of invigilators to cover the extra rooms generated as a result of spacing.

The board employed an additional 19,910 invigilators that year, paying each 48,500 Shillings, bringing the total expenditure to 1.931 billion Shillings. Initially, they only intended to employ 39,183 invigilators.

Odongo notes that while planning, they incorporated this fund into their budget. He, however, adds that the board might need additional funding given the fact there has been an increase in the number of candidates, which pushes their operational costs up.

According to his explanation, to match the needs of the increased candidature, this time around the board might need up to 60,000 invigilators. But, to Dr. Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist, it might not be necessary for UNEB to maintain the strict protocols at this point.

She explains that some guidelines like social distancing might come with a burden of funding yet the distance that was used in examination rooms before the COVID-19 pandemic might be effective.

Dr. Musenero, who is also the Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation, says that although she is no longer a presidential advisor on such matters, she would strongly advise UNEB to consult the Ministry of Health for guidance on how to proceed.

It should be noted that during the previous examination cycle, which came at a time when the country was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infections, examination centers failed to meet the SOPs.

Prof Mary Okwakol, the UNEB chairperson, says that the board might also need more funds to cover risks anticipated in the conduct of examinations including heavy rainfalls and floods.

“The board will assess the situation with district inspectors of schools, and come up with requests to the emergency response agencies for logistical support in those areas where such support will be needed,” she noted.

Odongo notes that in the past when they faced bad weather conditions, the board required 500 million Shillings to help them relocate some centers and get additional fuel where the planned journeys had become impassable.

According to an examinations timetable recently released by UNEB, this year’s national examination will commence on October 14 with a briefing session for senior four candidates. The Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE)  candidates are scheduled to start with a briefing on November 7 and sit for the papers on  November 8th and 9th while the senior six candidates will kick off on November 18.

-URN

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