Exam malpractice: 3 teachers charged over leaking PLE

The teachers appearing before Masaka Chief Magistrate’s court

Three primary school teachers accused of leaking Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) scripts to candidates via social media have been denied bail by Masaka Magistrate’s court.

The suspects Robert Kintu, Vincent Atukwase, and Waneslaus Twongyeriwe were denied bail by Masaka chief magistrate, Sylvia Nvanungi who read for them two counts of aiding and abetting examination malpractices and unauthorized possession of examination materials under section 25 of the Uneb  Act, 2021. 

According to the charge sheet, the suspect committed the offences between November 8 and 9 this year, when they leaked the examination scripts to various schools within the Masaka region. 

The prosecution led by Pricilla Nakika, Masaka assistant state attorney told the court that the accused persons abused their responsibilities as examination supervisors when they stealthily opened the PLE parcels and circulated the scripts to various schools ahead of time. 

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 offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand currency points 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.

Meanwhile, although the suspects denied the offences, the prosecution insisted that they had gathered enough evidence implicating them in the offences and prayed that they are charged accordingly.

The trio applied for bail in vain due to the lack of substantive sureties. She accordingly remanded the suspects until Monday when their second bail application will be considered. Anne Kembaali, the principal legal officer at the Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb) said that the suspects were arrested following a tip-off from a whistleblower about their involvement in malpractice. 

According to Kembaali, the board sent out a special investigative team that collaborated with the police and eventually arrested the suspects.

“We reached here following a whistleblowers report which we had to investigate. So in the process, some teachers who were apprehended are the ones who disclosed the details of the suspected persons who appeared before court. We want to warn the examiners as you can see these are teachers. Teachers are the custodians of the education system and these exams, they are ones who come to mark. They are the ones who are dealing with students, so this whole thing you’re seeing, we’re trying to send a strong message – teachers stay out of exam malpractice because you touch the heart of education in Uganda. When you engage in exam malpractice, you’re destroying the whole foundation of education in Uganda, you’re tampering with the credibility of certificates of the examinations board, you’re destroying the future of these children,” said Kembaali.

In the same development, our reporter has learned that the examinations body, working with the police, is investigating a host of schools across the country linked to this Masaka cartel. The name of schools that are under probe has been withheld to avoid jeopardizing the process. The examination cycle in Uganda is increasingly marred by malpractice, with thousands of results being withheld annually. 

Commercialization of the education sector is one of the many causes contributing to the vice which has gradually crept into Uganda’s education system. Each year hundreds of examination results are withheld due to malpractice. Uneb has often blamed the weak laws for the continuing vice. However, with the new Act, the board has had a robust mechanism for spotting and tracking suspected malpractice. 

Source: The Observer

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