Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) Executive Secretary Dan Odongo has asked government to pay examination fees for candidates under universal free education, as soon as possible.
Speaking during the commissioning of the new Uneb printer in Kyambogo recently, Odongo said the payment would greatly relieve the board of its current ‘financial stress’.
“For the last four years, government has been paying the same amount of money for universal [free] education students despite an increment in the number of candidates,” Odongo said.
He added that government had this year indicated that it would pay at least Shs 8bn for Universal Primary Education (UPE), Universal Secondary Education (USE) and Universal Post-O-level Education and Training (Upolet) candidates, but the money is not reflected on their account.
“It would be very important if this money is paid in the second quarter [October-December] before we start exams so that we can have funds to pay scouts, invigilators, transport examinations and mark scripts, among others,” he said.
The government owes Uneb Shs 7bn in examination fees for 2016 candidates under universal free education.
However, Odongo said that although the board has not yet received the money, “it has at least been reflected on our accounts and we shall get it this quarter.”
Uneb Chairperson Prof Mary Okwakol said the board is unable to deliver its mandate effectively, due to the low funding of individual universal candidates and the high cost of running examinations.
“Not all candidates’ fees are paid. Every year, we experience shortfalls and all we do is to continue crying to government,” Okwakol said.
Education Minister Janet Museveni promised to engage the finance ministry to ensure that the Uneb funding gap is reduced.
Odongo also called for development funds for the construction of storage space for its raw materials (papers) and office space. In addition, the board wants government to meet its total staff wage bill, as opposed to only 40 per cent currently.
“This has also put an additional strain on our resources. In an institution like Uneb, you need highly motivated staff that handles national exams at all cost,” he said.
In order to plug its funding gap, Uneb increased its registration fees this year. Fees for PLE candidates have been set at Shs 34,000, Shs 164,000 (O-level) and Shs 186,000 (A-level). Each candidate from a private school pays Shs 15,000 more (O-level) and Shs 18,000 (A-level).
Formal registration of USE, non-USE, Upolet and non-Upolet candidates closed on May 31, 2017. However, late registration of candidates, which attracts a 100 per cent surcharge, began on July 1 and is scheduled to end on July 31, 2017.