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Schools Decry Fees Defaulters as Senior Six Exams Kick off

Moses Buyela, the Head Teacher Mbale Secondary School in Mbale said over 30 candidates have been allowed to sit their examinations without clearing school dues.
Hajji Badru Kimera, the Deputy Head Teacher in charge of Academics and Career Guidance at Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School

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Although the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education-UACE examinations commenced on Monday across the country, several schools are still grappling with fees defaulters.  Our reporters have established from a number of school managers that students pay towards examination, which Helen Twongyeirwe, the Head teacher Kyambogo College School, says complicates their abilities to run schools. With 104,481 senior six candidates registered to sit for the exams from 1, 982 centers, schools say many students are writing their examinations at the mercy of the school administrators.

Candidates started the examinations with History Paper 3 (European History) in the morning and Mathematics in the afternoon. According to Twongyeirwe, Kyambogo College School registered 156 senior six students who she hopes will all turn up for the final examinations.

 

She says while she expects all her candidates to write their examinations, a significant number has not cleared their fees to zero balance. 

“Yes we agree there are legal implications but we also have a good case as a school. We have catered for this child’s needs. He has been eating lunch, he has been using the facilities, we have had a rich revision with them so the issue about right to education, they should also tell people about their responsibilities,” says Twongyeirwe.  

According to Twongyeirwe, the schools are barred from blocking registered candidates from writing their final examinations because of legal implications.

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At Lake Side College Luzira, 15 out of the 185 registered candidates are sitting examinations without completing fees. The head teacher, Fredrick Sentumbwe, says all learners were requested to pay at least 80 percent of their tuition balance.  

“We normally do not give them results without completing the school fees. This year we asked them to pay 80 percent for those that had not yet completed. By the time they come to pick their results, we hope that they will have paid the balance,” Sentumbwe said.  

Hajji Badru Kimera, the Deputy Head Teacher in charge of Academics and Career Guidance at Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School in Banda, says the school had a number of fees defaulters but was sorted before they sat their papers.  

“Those few that hadn’t cleared paid last week. There are cases which we got to know and we accepted to sit. There could be one or two but we have agreed to continue with them,” Kimera said.  According to Kimera, students are in most cases innocent because they are not the ones who pay their fees.   He argues that schools shouldn’t block students from writing their papers due to defaulting fees, saying such moves victimize wrong people who ought to get results after studying.  

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Moses Buyela, the Head Teacher Mbale Secondary School in Mbale said over 30 candidates have been allowed to sit their examinations without clearing school dues.       He said some of the candidates have only paid half of the money required of them. Buyela told URN that the school signed a memorandum of understanding with the parents of the defaulting candidates to allow them write their exams.

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Abdul Aziz Sharaf, the Principal University Link High school in Mbale says that the delay by parents to clear the school dues tortures the student psychologically and as such many fail to concentrate during exams.  

He urges parents to always pay school dues on time to enable their children concentrate during exams for them to have a better future.  

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UNEB on Fees Defaulters       Dan N. Odongo, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) Executive Secretary, says parents need to play their part and pay school fees on time. He argues that they need to plan early to avoid burdening schools, saying they need to feed other students before and after the examinations.  

Odongo cautioned head teachers against pulling students out of examination halls because they have not completed school fees. He says that the examination body will not tolerate any student being pulled out of examination halls during the exam.  

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During the release of Uganda Certificate of Education results this year, UNEB withheld results of some candidates that owed their schools fees. The candidates were not able to access their results even though the SMS portal.  

When asked whether the examination body was planning to use the same method this year, Odongo told URN that no plans have been made yet.  "The arrangement was carried out after schools requested for our help. That way candidate sat for their examinations without being locked out of examination rooms. This year, we have not yet received requests from schools," Odongo said.