UNEB adjust examinations timetables

Uganda National Examination Board Executive Secretary Don Odong (PHOTO/Courtesy)

In a resolute call for action, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has emphasised critical areas in urgent need of funding, with a primary focus on revamping examiners’ welfare, which requires sh11.1b.

This was disclosed as UNEB presented its ministerial policy statement for the financial year 2024/25 to the parliamentary committee on education and sports, chaired by John Twesigye Ntamuhiira (Bunyaruguru County) yesterday.

Dan Odongo, the UNEB executive director, emphasised the need to enhance the welfare of examiners, addressing concerns regarding accommodation, feeding and professional fees. He pointed out the glaring disparity between the demanding nature of examiners’ work and the meagre compensation they currently receive.

“To effectively secure accommodation for hosting marking sessions and to enhance marking fees, we estimate a budget of sh6.5b and sh4.6b respectively,” Odongo said.

He said this will help to attract and retain qualified markers.

UNEB intends to increase examiners’ fees from the current sh28,000 paid per marking session, to sh45,000.

Additionally, rates for invigilators have been raised from sh35,000 to sh45,000.

“We are also aware that we may not get the optimal, for example, when we look at the accommodation and welfare of examiners, currently we are at sh2,8000 and the institutions have told us that the next marking if we are at this level, they cannot provide the service. They had indicated that sh50,000 would be the best, but the board concluded at sh45,000,” Odongo told MPs.

As part of the justification, UNEB said the sh6.5b for accommodation would cater for five meals, utilities and basic health services provided to examiners and checkers during marking of examination scripts. It also covers actual accommodation during marking.

“The rates paid to examiners as fees is very low as compared to their work which is very demanding. Currently, the board is facing a challenge of attracting right numbers of examiners as many consider the current marking rates as inadequate. These funds will facilitate top up for marking of candidates’ scripts,” the ministerial statement reads.

Odongo affirmed that these reforms are essential for maintaining the integrity and credibility of the examination system.

“By prioritising the welfare of our markers and invigilators, we are investing in the future of our education sector,” he said.

Additional areas requiring prioritising for funding encompass measures to combat examination malpractice, particularly in bolstering security protocols where suspicious activities are detected.

As of March 2024, the board received sh108.72b out of the budgeted sh127.498b, accounting for 85% of the allocated funds.

Expenditure up to March amounted to sh102b, representing 93.8% of the released funds. For the financial year 2024/2025, UNEB’s budget stands at sh129b.

Twesigye urged swift action on unfunded and underfunded priorities and also requested a clear communication to Parliament, outlining areas requiring additional funding which will be passed on to the finance ministry for discussion next Tuesday.

He also emphasised the importance of ensuring that these items are adequately funded without reliance on supplementary budgets.