Education Ministry blocks UCU online examinations amidst coronavirus lock-down

Kampala – The Minister of Education for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo, has warned Uganda Christian University (UCU) administration not to bother conducting online examinations in violation of the Presidential directive that shut-down institutions and their operations. RedPepper’s Grace Turyatunga reports.

This was after a section of students at the Mukono-based institution expressed dissatisfaction on different social media platforms and reaching out to their nearest area MPs citing that it was unfair to them given they were not ready to sit for the examinations.

President Yoweri Museveni ordered for the shutdown of all institutions of learning across the country effective Friday, March 20, as a measure to control the rapid spread of Coronavirus pandemic.

Although it was a health and preventive measure to save Ugandans, some learning institutions moved their operations online.

Uganda Christian University (UCU), among others, continued to demand students to submit their course works and assignment via online platforms.

However, UCU took its business as usual and went ahead and organised online examinations for all students that were set to start next week Monday April 6.

However, this move was opposed by students and some resorted to petitioning the university, while other students went to their area Members of Parliament (MPs) to help them.

In a rare incident, lecturers were asking students to take photos of themselves and attach their names to forward to their class groups so that they can be awarded attendance marks. This is one of the qualifications that a student has to have to be able to sit for the examinations.

Students complained of not having smartphones, others complained of not having money to buy MB’s since their parents were all home and not working due to the lockdown of businesses. The university however offered to provide each student with MB’s that would enable them to do their examinations online till the end.

On Wednesday during a plenary sitting, Gilbert Olanya, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Amuru Constituency raised a matter of national importance blaming UCU for disrespecting the presidential directive and continued to pester students for tuition fees to those that hadn’t fully completed their tuition payments plus threatening them that they would not be able to seat for examinations which will be delivered on the university’s Website a few days from now.

“I want the Minister of Education to intervene in this situation. In my constituency, I know of 6 students from UCU that are burdened by the scheduled examinations. This is a serious issue. Now students, particularly in villages, are not allowed to move to trading centres where they can access the internet to do such exams. I honestly don’t know why do such institutions are still working?” he asked.

He also asked the minister to stop the university from pestering parents for tuition fees in such a time when many people are not working. The university had put a deadline for tuition fees on Monday on 6th next week.

The Speaker of Parliament Honorable Rebecca Kadaga asked the minister to come out and analyse why some universities are still operating. Muyingo said that no university was privileged to remain operating amidst this pandemic of COVID-19 neither online or physically.

“All Ugandans whether in private schools or public schools are under government directives. By the closure of schools, the government meant that every school activity was supposed to shut down, including the running of any online activity. This must stop right now. I promise to intervene immediately,” he said.

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