The Uganda National Examinations Board Act, 2021 is now in effect, having been gazetted on April 1, 2021. The Act provides for the continued existence of the Uganda National Examinations Board and its functions; the functions of the Board and the Secretariat, management, finances, offences and penalties. It also repeals the Uganda National Examinations Board Act, CAP 137.
The Act has also introduced a number of new reforms including;
CHANGE OF TITLES Among the new reforms in the Act is the Title of the Chief Executive of the Board who was previously referred to as the Executive Secretary, and is now Executive Director. Other changes include a change from the title of Deputy Secretary to Director, while the title of the Chairman of the Board has also been replaced by Chairperson.
The other major reform is with regard to offences. These have been expanded from 7 to 13. Specifically, the penalties/sanctions with regard to examinations malpractice have been increased to six months imprisonment to five years’ 5 years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding five million shillings ( 5,000,000/=), or both.
Other offences include;
- loss or misuse of examination paper material or information by a person who has the examination under his control
- Damage or destruction of an examination paper
- Impersonation has been broadened to capture those who register or use a false name or identity to lend or steal a certificate
- Possession of offensive material and disturbances during examinations
- Misappropriation of Exam Registration Fees
- Charging fees not prescribed by the Board
- Non -disclosure of interest in the examination
- Improper disclosure of information
- 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 if 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;
- Copying from each other’s script or work
- Assisting another candidate
- Possession of text book, or any electronic device
- Copying from notes textbook electronic device without permission
- Using forged results or a pas-slip to register for an examination
Relatedly, an examination centre may be suspended where the school authority does an act that contravenes, or engages in conduct that is prejudicial to the functions of the Board
EXPANSION OF BOARD FUNCTIONS
The functions of the Board have been expanded to include
- Issuance of certificates where one is lost or destroyed on request by any other person.
- Equating foreign qualifications has been clarified
- Register a school or any other place as an Examination Centre
- Consultancy services and research on educational assessment
- Display of registered students at District Headquarters and School notice Boards
EXPANSION OF POWERS
The Board powers have been expanded from 8 to 13, including;
- Demand any record or information of any examination where exam malpractice is alleged or reported or proven against a school.
- Conduct investigations and withhold results during such investigations
- Call for production of any information or the production of any documents the Board may require during the investigations
- Institute or commission an inquiry into a case of alleged malpractice
- Summon any person Board considers fit to assist as a witness in any inquiry or investigation of exam malpractice
- Cancel or Suspend Registration of exam center which is proven to have engaged in malpractice
- Recall results of a candidate that were erroneously issued
- Appoint supervisors and invigilators etc. to assist in the conduct of examinations
- Invite any person as may be necessary to jointly conduct examinations with the Board and jointly award certificates
- With the approval of the Minister and Minister responsible for Finance charge Examinations and Registration fees
- 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
- Cancel an exam paper where malpractice of wide magnitude.
REDUCTION OF BOARD MEMBERS
- The Board has been trimmed from 32 to 13 following the removal of some other examination bodies which are now governed by the BTVET Act, and in compliance with corporate governance.
APPOINTMENT OF THE BOARD CHAIRPERSON AND DIRECTORS
The appointing Authority who was previously the President, has been changed to the Minister
Disqualification from appointment to the Board may happen where a person has been convicted by Court for an offence involving dishonesty or fraud .
TENURE OF OFFICE OF BOARD MEMBERS
The tenure of office for Board Members shall be 3 years, renewable for only one more term.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S APPOINTMENT
To be appointed by the Minister and not the President, as it was previously
TENURE OF OFFICE
The Tenure of office for the Executive Director shall be 5 Years, renewable only once.
COMPLIANCE WITH THE PUBLIC MANAGEMENT FINANCE ACT2015 is a new reform