Nine arrested, others on the run for selling fake UNEB papers

Kampala – Nine people have been arrested by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB), in collaboration with security personnel for allegedly being involved in the sale of fake UNEB examination papers.

Among the nine, six have appeared in court and remanded to Luzira prison, while the others are yet to appear in court.

Fred Enanga, the Police Spokesperson, said that police and other security agencies are pursuing other individuals all of whom have been identified.

Based on court records and information obtained from sources within UNEB and the police, a significant number of those apprehended, including teachers, primarily hail from urban schools in Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono Districts.

Records also indicate that the culprits have been involved in the distribution of examination materials in schools in rural regions.

Dan Odongo, the Executive Director of UNEB, said that the suspects are fraudsters attempting to fleece unsuspecting school directors, heads, and parents substantial sums of money.

Odongo further explained that during the lead-up to examinations, some individuals, including teachers, initiate the sale of what they claim to be UNEB papers. Others take to social media platforms, such as WhatsApp groups, alleging connections to insiders within UNEB who can provide them with leaked examination materials.

Odongo emphasized that the materials being circulated do not comprise the actual UNEB examination papers. To underscore this, he pointed out that some of the shared materials were falsely claimed to be Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) papers, despite the fact that, at the time of the suspects’ apprehension, the final UNEB papers had not yet been generated.

He issued a stern warning to the general public, making it clear that the existing laws apply to individuals who sell, purchase, distribute, or electronically share materials claimed to be national examination papers, regardless of whether these materials are actual examination papers or not.

According to the new UNEB Act, “any person who willfully attempts to gain possession of any examination paper or any part of an examination paper, material, or information commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two thousand currency points (40 million shillings) or a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.”

Section 25 (2) of the same Act also states that any person who intentionally or negligently aids or causes any candidate to receive or gain unlawful possession of examination material is subject to a fine of up to Shs 20 million or 5 years in prison or both.

UNEB has also extended an invitation to the public, encouraging them to act as whistleblowers and report any suspicions of examination malpractice, either before or during the examination process.

Odongo further stated that if the information provided by whistleblowers is verified to be accurate, they will be eligible for an undisclosed monetary reward.

In an effort to combat malpractice and ensure the smooth administration of examinations, UNEB, in collaboration with other agencies and contracted professionals, will deploy a total of 1,036 police officers, 1,113 scouts, and 107,941 invigilators.

UNEB acknowledges that it has taken measures to minimize the risk of examination leaks from within the board. However, there remain a few vulnerabilities in the distribution chain, particularly when examination papers leave designated storage centers en route to their respective examination centers.

Apart from distribution issues, various forms of malpractice have been detected in the past, mainly centered around examination venues. These include cases of impersonation where candidates hire someone else to take the exam on their behalf, as observed in the previous cycle, leading to charges and sentences for several individuals.

Other issues involve teachers providing answers on blackboards after bribing examination officials, candidates bringing unauthorized materials into the examination room or attempting to copy from their peers, among other means of malpractice.

UNEB has over the years underscored the importance of taking the pre-examination briefing seriously. Schools are urged to ensure that candidates are thoroughly guided through the examination timetables and regulations.

Odongo emphasized during the hearing of cases that there is often evidence indicating either candidate were not adequately briefed or the briefing process was not conducted as required. This emphasizes that comprehensive briefing must be carried out without any shortcuts, as its absence will not be considered as an excuse for any regulatory violations.

Enanga announced that the police force has already conducted comprehensive briefings for its officers.

He added that in addition to police officers who will be stationed at examination centers and along distribution chains to prevent malpractice and the undermining of the process, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has been placed on high alert to investigate cases of malpractice, including incidents such as impersonation, which were observed in the previous examination cycle.

In the same development, UNEB has reiterated its call for schools and parents to resolve any outstanding school fee issues prior to the commencement of the actual examinations. Odongo emphasized that students with school fee balances may still be allowed to sit for the exams. However, schools are urged to promptly inform UNEB about such cases to ensure that individuals with outstanding fees cannot access their examination results until their balances have been cleared.

A total of 1,224,371 candidates have been registered to take their final examinations across the three education levels, namely the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE), and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE).

The national examinations for this year are scheduled to commence on Monday next week October 16, with UCE candidate writing their examinations, and will continue until November 17, 2023. PLE will be conducted from November 7 to 9, 2023, while UACE will take place from November 10 to December 1, 2023.

Source: URN