As the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) Examinations enter their third week, the body charged with organizing them has hailed several pregnant candidates for overcoming the odds to write their O levels.
The Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) in a statement on social media, confirmed that so far, they have recorded six live births by candidate mothers, one of them having delivered over the weekend.
Five of these mothers have been able to continue with the examinations together with another colleague, who unfortunately had a still birth. The UCE exams started March 1, and will run until April 6.
“While we are yet to get the total number of pregnant candidates that have sat for the examinations, reports indicate that a number of them have braved the odds and sat for the examinations. We are grateful to the heads of Examination Centres, the parents and the community members for allowing and supporting the candidates to pursue their dreams through education,” UNEB spokesperson Jennifer Kalule said.
These are among the hundreds of learners who conceived during the long holiday that started with the closure of schools which was effected in March 2020, as one of the measures taken by the government to control the spread of coronavirus disease.
UNEB also revealed that they have in their record a number of breastfeeding mothers who either leave their babies at home or come to school with their caretakers.
They however warned that UNEB will act tougher on pregnancies when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
“We hail them for exhibiting this strong and brave spirit but we would like to caution all learners that this leeway may not continue after the COVID-19 era. UNEB does not condone teenage pregnancy. We, therefore, urge learners to concentrate on their studies before they can think of getting babies,” UNEB said in their statement.
UNEB also reported another sad story, a case in which a teenager who is said to have been so frustrated with how he had written the math exams, attempted to commit suicide.
“In West Nile, a candidate attempted to commit suicide after sitting for mathematics but was rescued. He has not been able to continue with the examination and is hospitalized,” the UNEB statement said.
The examinations body noted that they had successfully delivered the papers to their respective stations throughout the country for a third straight week with few reported cases of examinations malpractice.
“We have however received reports of a few cases of examinations malpractice related to the smuggling of unauthorized materials into the examination rooms, especially for the practical examinations. Statements have been made with Police and investigations are underway.”
In another incident, two people were found vending fake examination papers at one school around Kampala.
UNEB revealed it now has a toll free line; 0800-211-077.
“We urge anyone with information that may implicate anybody involved in a suspected case of examinations malpractice to call this line and give us the information. The information will be regarded as confidential and the person will be protected and compensated under the Whistle Blower’s policy once the information is found to be correct.”
A total of 333,889 candidates from 3,935 centres registered for the 2020 UCE Examinations that started on March 1, 2021. The candidates would have sat their examination last year around October. However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the school calendar.