Jinja: Schools in Jinja are charging more than what is officially prescribed for national examination registrations. However, the Uganda National Examinations Board has said it is okay. They just have be fair in the overcharging.
Speaking to Busoga Today, the examination body’s spokesperson, Jenipher Kalule Musamba, said that whereas candidates in Government aided schools are fully paid for by Government under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) schools have other administrative costs that they incur in the registration process hence the need for extra charges.
“We encourage them not to exaggerate administrative costs. If someone says the registration in two hundred fifty thousand shillings, the parent should make sure they get a receipt as evidence,” she said.
According to a circular released by UNEB on April 20, candidates sitting for Primary Leaving Examinations have to pay shs34,000 while their counterparts hoping to seat for o’ Levels have to pay shs164,000 and those in A’ level have to pay shs186,000. The fees are to be paid by the end of May otherwise a surcharge (fine) will be added for late payment.
However, schools in Jinja are charging almost double the official fees. Jinja Senior Secondary School for example has asked A’ level candidates to pay shs221,000.
Mr William Olara Ongom, a deputy head teacher at Jinja SS S says UNEB registration fees is well known by parents, however, it does not include some costs incurred in the process.
“You know that we use online (internet) to register which requires data. Students’ passport photos are also needed and we have to take them besides UNEB fee, “Even if you go to UNEB offices, you will find that you need transport fares and others costs, insisting that an extra fee has to be added as a school accordingly. We recently had a meeting with candidates’ parents and discussed the amount to be added, something which they agreed and they were the ones who gave us the figures,” he said.
Other schools within the city are charging shs245, 000 for UCE and UACE, shs200, 000, shs220, 000 depending on how close they are to the city center.
Their reasons for upping the fees range from ensuring that they are able to facilitate the registration process to being able to give the students mock UNEB Exams.
“This extra money helps us to facilitate the registration, since we use technology, take students photos and even the transportation of material during examination period,” says a private secondary school head teacher.
He added, “We are talking to our parents and explaining to them the use of these additional fees and they are listening to us.”
According to the UNEB Act 2021, section 33, it is an offence to charge fees not prescribed by UNEB and refer as it as UNEB fees. Such an offence attracts a penalty of two thousand currency point (forty million shillings) or a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years or both.
The Board adds that if the person is convicted shall pay back the amount that is not prescribed by UNEB to concerned candidates or their sponsors. The board may also withdraw the school examination center.
Mr Haruna Muloopa, the Jinja city education officer says UNEB charges are very clear and asked schools to charge the standard fees as prescribed by UNEB and not to inflate.
“It is true private schools tend to charge an extra money fee but they should resolve with their parents,” Muloopa noted.
He advised parents to be vigilant and put their children in credible schools to avoid cases of fraud by some schools’ directors and head teachers.
“Don’t put your children in every school you see, some schools have no center numbers. There are private schools that have existed for decades, those are permanent schools worthy registering with,” he said.
UNEB’s Kalule says parents should work with the school administrations and agree on fair fees saying the examination body doesn’t go into the administrative costs but it only publicizes costs so that parents know about it to avoid being exploited by some head teachers whom she described as businessmen charging fees mercilessly.
“Candidates always miss examinations as their school directors and head teachers pocket their fees and end up not registering students.
“UNEB is going to give an opportunity to parents and schools to confirm the status registration. Parents shall receive a notification either by SMS about the registration of their children but they are asked to visit schools to confirm the effectiveness of the registration and correctness of students’ bio data,” Kalule said.
Ms Joy Pearl Naikumi, a parent at Masese Seed Secondary School in Jinja City says they were only asked twenty thousand shillings because it is under Universal Secondary Education (USE) program.
“However, my girl in senior four told me that those inns non USEUSE’. But I was told by my S.4 girl that those on non-USE schools are paying one hundred eighty thousand. I have no problem with paying. Just that I have not paid yet but I must pay,” she said.
While most government schools in Jinja are charging extra, Mr Mathias Nabangi Isabirye, the head teacher at Jinja College says they are not charging a penny more than perceived by UNEB.
“For us we go by UNEB standards. It (extra money) is mostly done in private schools but this is a government school which has every facility,” he said
Lwanda High School Director. Mathias Wakasenzali however said that to avoid unwarranted issues around the money, “we have summed up UNEB and school fees to be one amount. We don’t want to specify because this money must be paid.”