EDUCATION

Education expert Jonathan Kivumbi: Why attaching specialty to UNEB is killing other national examining bodies

Dr. Eng Silver Mugisha and State Minister for Higher Education, Dr. Muyingo at the function (PHOTO/Courtesy).

Friday, September 3, 2021, the country witnessed the release of 2020/21, Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) results, by UBTEB, in which we saw a decline in performance, from a pass rate of 78% the previous academic year to 75%.

However, compared to the publicity given to the release of UNEB results, it would be wrong for one to criticize, condemn, and crucify the other, for stating that the release of the UBTEB results was not given any form of publicity.

Yes, without any doubt, I strongly believe, the biggest percentage of the population is not aware these results were released, 11 days ago-that is if they are aware of the existence of a government agency, called UBTEB, charged with the responsibility of conducting and co-ordinating assessment for business and technical colleges in the country, anyway.

You will realize that, as a routine, two days before the release of any of the three sets of UNEB examination results, UNEB first briefs the minister, about the performance of the candidates at a particular level, on Wednesday, which is not the case with UBTEB results.

I am yet to find out if this arrangement does exist for the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB) results.

For goodness sake, according to the brains behind this whole arrangement, why is this so? Precisely, why is the minister briefed about the performance of candidates in UNEB examinations, two days to the release of the results, yet the same does not happen with the other examining bodies?

Besides, what is the essence of reading the ‘detailed’ report concerning the performance of the candidates, to minister, at the official release of the results, yet he/she already has prior knowledge of this performance, of course, obtained from the previous briefing? And why is it that the briefing of the minister is done behind curtains?

In other words, why does UNEB choose to brief the minister about these results in the absence of the press? So, after briefing the minister, why doesn’t UNEB release the results the following day? What is the essence of again skipping a day, and having the results released, after a day has passed? Please be reminded that these are questions in the public domain, and my principal role, is to simply put them across to the concerned authorities so that answers to them can be found. Year-in-year-out, whenever UNEB results are released, all media houses/platforms, including the different social medium platforms, take a week, or two, from the date of release, discussing these results, which is not the case with UBTEB results, or even the results of any other examining body, in the country.

Indeed, it is common practice to see newspapers with headlines reading:

(1) BEST AND WORST SCHOOLS, NAMED (2) BEST STUDENTS PER DISTRICT, NAMED (3) BEST STUDENTS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES, and so on, and so forth.

In fact, of late, newspapers even publish the ‘best’ teachers in each subject, at all the three levels of instruction, under UNEB’s jurisdiction. For goodness sake, do our media houses all shut down operations, at the release of the results of the other examining bodies, a case in point, and UBTEB results?

Should we say that during the release of the results of these other examining bodies, the operational licenses for most (if not all) media houses in the country, are revoked? Yes, we all know the press will always go where there is news, implying that, once the event in question does not make news, it will obviously not attract, the required attention from the press.

So, the one million dollar question here is: Why is it that the release of UNEB results attracts the attention of the press, compared to the release of results of other examining bodies? Is it because UNEB examinations are considered to be more valuable to us as a country, than the rest of the examinations administered by the other examining bodies? Is it because the CAPITALIST (owners of private schools) has invested heavily in primary and secondary schools, compared to business and technical colleges? Surely, what is so special about UNEB examinations, which is not part of the rest of the examinations administered by the other examining bodies?

I am convinced beyond doubt, those of you who read the papers, following the release of the 2020 UACE results, you must have seen/read the results of the best students in Buvuma district, where students whose performance was between 1-3 points, were also ranked among the best students, in the district. You can imagine! So, should we say it is much easier for the press to realize the performance of a student who scores only ONE (1) point and list them among the best performers, but very laborious to identify the one with a first-class pass mark, in UBTEB, or UNMEB? Precisely, what is special about UNEB examinations, that has of late seen even students with just ONE (1) point in their S.6 (UACE) examinations, capture newspaper headlines?

Surprisingly, even while addressing the nation at the release of the UNEB results, speaker after speaker, caution schools against celebrations; surely, how do these people know that schools have to celebrate these results?

I kept my eyes glued on TV, on Friday, September 3, 2021, waiting to witness the release of the 2020/21 UBTEB results by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Maama Janet Museveni, just like she had done for the rest of the three sets of examination results of UNEB in Statehouse, Entebbe, or Nnakasero, but up to the time I got off the TV, this had not happened yet. Yes, while almost every TV station (if not all) had live coverage for the release of the three sets of examination results of UNEB, of course, just as the case has been, not a single TV station, certainly, including UBC, found it worthwhile, to give us, as a country, a live broadcast of 2020/21, UBTEB results.

And, yes, unlike the 2020 UNEB results that were released in Statehouse, the release of 2020/21, happened elsewhere, and not Statehouse. For heaven’s sake, why, why, and why? What is really so special about UNEB, that is to be realized by other examining bodies? What criteria did the officials of UNEB go through, to have their results released from Statehouse, which could not be fulfilled by their counterparts in UBTEB, to have their results released from the same locality?

Precisely, couldn’t the UBTEB officials be subjected to the same conditions, that their counterparts in UNEB were subjected to, prior to accessing Statehouse (moreover, 6 times, in a row), such that they could also officially access Statehouse, after all, for them they only had to appear their only once?

So, are we trying to say, that of all the examining bodies, we have as a country, UNEB is the most important, of them all? And if this is the case, then what is the essence of having the other examining bodies, anyway? But surely, do we have any technocrats in the Education Ministry? And if so, are these people executing their duties, as required? Are these people advising the minister, and, of course, the President, as required?

While the chief accounting officer of UNEB has been elevated from executive secretary to executive director, of course, by law, his/her counterparts with whom they perform the same tasks of UBTEB and UNMEB still hold the title, executive secretary. Surely, is this possible? For goodness sake, how can people, seemingly heading institutions that perform the same functions, hold different portfolios/titles?

Must one be at the stage of writing their Ph.D. thesis report in organizational management, to know that this is wrong? Without any doubt, it is crystal clear, that have decided to describe the head of UNEB as the executive director, at the time of amending the 1983 UNEB Act, even the UBTEB and UNMEB Acts, had to be amended, as well. There is absolutely no way the head of UNEB takes on a different title, from the heads of other examining bodies, with whom they perform similar roles.

Making the head of UNEB superior to the other heads of the remaining examining bodies is not only wrong but equally illegitimate and unlawful. Believe it, or not; take it, or leave it, these people MUST all carry the same title. Anything short of this, as already mentioned, is wrong, illegitimate, and certainly, unlawful. For goodness sake, can’t/couldnot the ministry’s technocrats see this so that they can/could advise the minister, accordingly?

Why must we attach many specialties to UNEB, at the expense of other examining bodies, surely? As a nation, how are we going to convincingly deal with the so many forms of examination malpractice, evident in UNEB examinations, after showing everyone, including youngsters, that these examinations are much-much important than the rest of the examinations administered by the different examining bodies, in the country?

No wonder, out of the forty (40) marking centers for the 2020 UNEB examinations, at all the three levels, 28 of them belonged to individual school owners, of course, with senior officials at Embassy House, having the lion man’s share (Details on this story, are still loading). Hmmm! The public ought to be reminded that, examination malpractice, is a process, and not an event, like most people, want us to believe, and in one way, or the other, almost each and every one of us, including the government, have aided the process.

Yes, the existing conflict of interest evident in the Education Ministry, is a TRUE MANIFESTATION OF EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE, and not until, the President, as the chief appointing authority, finds it necessary, to satisfactorily deal with this elephant in the room, CONFLICT OF INTEREST, the vice of examination malpractice, is here to stay.

The CAPITALIST is very smart in the way he/she cheats exams-the reason he/she has moved away from the popularly known form of examination malpractice; i.e., examination leakage, and opted for less risky, but more rewarding forms of examination malpractice (Keep it, here; soonest, this story, will come your way).

So, because, the CAPITALIST has not heavily invested in those institutions examined by UBTEB and UNMEB, he/she is less concerned about the happenings there-the reason for the release of the results of these agencies, does not necessarily attract his/her attention, unlike the release of UNEB results.

Believe it, or not, Your Excellency, relying on the services of the CAPITALIST, whose principal object, is to maximize profits/wealth, regardless, as argued by experts in Economics and Financial Management, respectively, in planning for the country’s education, is going to, cause irreparable, damage, not only to the country’s education sector but to the rest of the sectors, as well. Please kindly, think about it.

I beg to submit! For God and My Country! Jonathan Kivumbi Educationist-communication and language skills analyst                      0770880185 (WhatsApp 0702303190) [email protected]

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