Exam candidatesKAMPALA, Uganda – Candidate students registering for exams this year at 237 centres throughout the country will not be required to fill their details on hard copy forms to be taken by their headteachers to the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) offices in Ntinda.

They will simply be registered online. Their head teachers will not have to travel to Kampala, to the UNEB offices, to deliver their details, as these shall be sent by email.

The new development, announced on Thursday at the examinations body offices, follows a two-year pilot in 60 districts in Uganda on how details of candidates registering for both O’ and A’ level examinations can be captured using ICT, that was highly successful.

“This will increase the efficiency of the process and remove the burdens that both the schools and UNEB have been shouldering. It will result in cost savings,” Dr. Rose Nassali Lukwago, the education ministry permanent secretary, said.

Dan Odongo, the deputy director in charge of secondary examinations, said after this first phase they will look to rolling out the program to the rest of the examination centres throughout the country.

“We are going to use our UNEB ICT and secondary school examinations staff to carry out trainings in the other centres where we didn’t conduct the pilot. By two years, all centres should be registering their candidates online.”

But this does not apply to Primary Leaving Examinations centres. Odongo said they would come to the e-registration of candidates at primary level later, after they are through with the secondary.

The e-registration system is programmed, with names of schools, subject combinations, and other imbedded help systems, it is user friendly, Dr. Peter Wakabi, the examination board’s ICT manager, said.

“You don’t need to have internet to use it. You can work on it, safe the candidates’ details, put them on a flush and go to where they have internet and send the details to UNEB than coming here physically. So, even schools in the hard-to-reach-areas without internet can use it,” he explained.

Charles Drake Rubongoya, the director of studies at Bishop Cipriano Kihangire SS in Luzira, Kampala, said he used the system to register his candidates during the pilot and it was highly effective and time saving.

He said: “In a day, I registered all of them. They were about 300. What you do, is tell your leaners to come when they are ready, with their dates of birth, photograph pictures and subject combinations. The rest you just enter. It’s like being a teller in a bank.”

However, the system or the software does not provide for biometric registration when candidates’ fingerprints can be taken to avoid forgery.

Odongo, however, said it did have enough checks like provisions for the candidates to sign to minimize on the forgeries.

Matthew Bukenya, the UNEB executive secretary, said e-registration would ease the process of registering candidates, but that it didn’t mean they (UNEB) would now reduce candidates’ registration fees.

There were however, gaps, like the lack of sufficient ICT competent specialists and computers in many Ugandan schools to ably sustain the project, that the UNEB officials could not find answers to.

Credit: New Vision