Juliet Twesigye, the examinations manager at UNMEB, says that in response to this evolving challenge and the need to streamline some processes, the board has taken a decisive action by introducing changes to effectively maintaining the integrity of healthcare education in Uganda.
Some of the continuing nursing trainee at the release of the examination results.
The Uganda Nurses and Midwifery
Examinations Board (UNMEB) has implemented changes in
the administration, management and conduct of examination to streamline process and combat the growing threat of
Helen Mukakarisa Kataratambi, the Executive
Secretary of UNMEB says the recently implemented changes are aimed
at tackling the pervasive issue of examination malpractice, a significant
challenge that poses a threat to the nursing profession.
"We didn't have incidents of malpractice in
the past. A nurse, who will be responsible for people's lives, should not have
graduated with a history of malpractice. This suggests that the individual may
lack the necessary competencies," stated Mukakarisa.
The Executive Secretary conveyed these sentiments over the weekend during a stakeholders briefing held in preparation for the December
2023 semester examination. The meeting brought together various stakeholders in
the health sector, including institution owners, deputy principals, tutors,
senior and retired nurses, as well as members of the Nurses Council.
While malpractice has been a longstanding issue
plaguing the education sector, with different examination and assessment institutions
grappling to curb its prevalence, UNMEB had remained relatively untouched until
the June 2019 examinations. During this period, the board identified and
penalized 13 candidates who had received external support.
Following the isolated incident in June 2019,
instances of malpractice within UNMEB examinations have exhibited a troubling
upward trajectory, manifesting in diverse forms. Notably, students have been
found entering examination rooms with notes, resorting to writing on their
thighs, and even engaging in the forgery of logbooks.
Juliet Twesigye, the examinations manager at UNMEB,
says that in response to this evolving challenge and the need to streamline some processes, the board has taken a decisive
action by introducing changes to effectively maintaining the integrity of
healthcare education in Uganda.
The changes commence with a shift in the packaging
of the examinations themselves, introducing a novel packing approach to
distinctly separate the theory and practical papers.
“For an appropriate storage of the examination, the
board has introduced a black bag for practical examination. this has been done
to separate theory examination which will be in the grey bags used during week
one, from the practical examinations to be used in week two,” a document
highlighting the changes states in part.
The revelation underscores that in the past, both
theory and practical examination papers were contained within the same bag,
leading to concerns about potential compromises, particularly in the handling
of the practical papers.
Within the UNMEB document, explicit guidelines have
been provided regarding the individuals responsible for the retrieval and
return of examination papers. The document also outlines accountability
measures for answer sheets. Moreover, an incident report has been instituted,
compelling supervisors to meticulously document any significant incidents,
including instances of malpractice, witnessed at the examination center.
Furthermore, the introduction of an absentee
tracking form is noteworthy, placing an obligation on school heads to furnish
detailed explanations if a registered candidate fails to partake in the
examination at the semester's end. This proactive measure is designed to
enhance accountability in monitoring and ensuring the attendance of candidates
throughout the examination period.
The board has also introduced a serial number on
each of the answer booklet with an aims to track booklets for accurate results
and prevent script switching or inserting of foreign answer sheets.
“The candidates must append their signatures and
record the serial number of their answer booklet against each paper sat per day
under supervision of invigilators,” the document adds.
A ten-minute extension has been granted for the three-hour papers to
accommodate candidates' sign-in procedures on the exam album. This
ensures alignment with examination cards that include photographs and
biographical data. The invigilators closely observe the process to
UNMEB has also revised practice
examination guidelines, limiting the number of students in the room to five at
“This has to continue until all
move out after they have rotated in the 5 stations...any other form not
prescribed by UNMEB like the continuous type also known as “kajegere” is not accepted”
the board noted adding that center-coordinating supervisors, typically from
institutions or teaching hospitals, are not to be involved in the preparation of
In addition to the introduced
changes, Mukakarisa also cautioned principals and other administrators against
signing logbooks, emphasizing that they are not designated supervisors during
nurses' hospital deployments.
According to her, a principal
signing a logbook is considered malpractice. She disclosed that the board has
identified over 30 logbooks from previous examination series with such issues.
//Cue in; “We found....
Cue out...during clinical
The nursing board has been
stringent on logbook integrity, and students found with forged logbooks in
previous years faced expulsion from the nursing profession.
crucial for nurse trainees, documenting clinical experiences, patient
encounters, procedures, medications administered, and other vital information.
These records help assess the trainees' competency, proficiency, and overall
progress in various nursing skills and tasks.
Dr. Safinah Kisu Musene, the
Director of Higher, Technical, and Vocational Education and Training at the
Ministry of Education, welcomed the changes, emphasizing that maintaining the
integrity of the examination process is essential for the credibility of the
//Cue in; “At the end...
Cue out...been trained for.”//
UNMEB is not the first
assessment board to enhance its examination administration system to combat
malpractice. The Uganda National Examinations Board has previously implemented
various measures, including the introduction of photo albums and random numbers,
to deter malpractice and maintain the integrity of their examinations.
Malpractice in health training
institutions has been attributed to the rising prevalence of private
institutions in a domain that was historically dominated by public institutions
and a limited number managed by religious-based organizations. Additionally,
there are concerns that the perpetuation of malpractice in health education may
be linked to students who have experienced or been exposed to such practices
during their earlier education years in primary and secondary schools.
Meanwhile, available data
indicates that a total of 54,755 candidates from 121 centers have been
registered to take part in 36 examination series, corresponding to the 12
semester examinations. The examination period is scheduled to run from December
4 to December 15, 2023.