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COVID-19 Pandemic: UNEB Makes Adjustments in Candidate's Briefing

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Jennifer Kasule, the Principal Public Relations Officer in UNEB, notes that although nothing much is changing in the management and administration of examinations, they have added a few aspects concerning the Standard Operating Procedures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
23 Feb 2021 20:49
A candidate at St Martins Primary School in class. As learning resumes, candidates are not allowed to engage into co-curricular activities. Photo by Christopher Kisekka

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Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB has made a few adjustments in the requirements for this year’s candidates briefing. It is mandatory for schools to brief their candidates as one of the ways to prepare them physically and mentally for the national exams.  

The briefing for senior four candidates is scheduled to take place on Friday this week ahead of their Ordinary level certificate exams, according to the timetable issued by the examination body. The briefing should last for 2 hours. 

Jennifer Kasule, the Principal Public Relations Officer in UNEB, notes that although nothing much is changing in the management and administration of examinations, they have added a few aspects concerning the Standard Operating Procedures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Kasule says that during briefing they expect teachers to put more emphasis on the adjustments to have a smooth activity.  “Teachers should address learner on how the social distance will be handled at the examination centers. How to handle masks and sanitization or handwashing and avoidance of borrowing any material regardless of the situation,” she noted.  

Carol Kavuma, a Senior Educationist and Child Physiologist in the Ministry of Education and Sports, says that unlike the previous year, teachers need to put more emphasis on providing social-psychological support to the candidates. Kavuma notes that there are already studies showing the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on learner’s mental health.  

She says that besides COVID-19, the mode of learning during the shortened terms has also exerted stress and anxiety on learners.

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Afuwa Nabbanja, the Deputy Headteacher Samson Memorial High School in Kampala, notes that although briefing has not been accorded the attention it deserves, this time around every school needs to see it as a basic requirement and conduct it in the right way.    

“Truth be told, briefing has been abused over years. Many schools just gather students and distribute to them the UNEB time table, read a few guidelines and that’s all,” said Nabbanja. 

She notes that in addition to the usual requirement of taking candidates through the dos and don’ts of the examination period, they have decided to have a professional psychologist to prepare their learners mentally for the examinations. 

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John Ddumba, the Director of Studies at Emma High School, Kyebando, says that in addition to psychological support, briefing at their school will also emphasize how learners will relate and interact with invigilators and other officials. 

 

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Although the UNEB guidelines require learners to be at the examination centers at least 30 minutes before the examination starts, teachers say that during briefing a lot of emphases is going to be put on earlier arrival especially for those in the day section.  

“Given the social distancing and washing of hands that one will be undergoing, we expect that this tie around the checking might consume more time. This is not included in the UNEB guidelines and I think it was an oversight, learners need to be at the center at least one and a half hours before the examination,” said Hassan Gombe, headteacher Mulago High School.    

In a recent interview, Issa Matovu, an educationist noted that in all cases teachers should stick to the UNEB guidelines so as not to pass misleading information to candidates. He says that some of the information schools tend to pass on to learners during briefing can better be delivered after examinations.   

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In a similar way, 749,811 Primary Seven candidates are scheduled to be briefed on March 26, before they write their examinations on March 30. Finally, 98,379 candidates at the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education-UACE level will also go through the same process on April 9, before they sit their final examinations on May 3.       

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