24 February 2024

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Angoda: Simplify PUJAB form procedures for students 

I am firmly of the opinion that the process of filling PUJAB forms should be reformed, the following issues should be considered. 
students

Author: Emmanuel Angoda. Courtesy/File photo.

Last Updated on: 17th January 2023, 02:21 pm

After completing UACE exams, it is important for students to fill and submit PUJAB (Public Universities Joint Admissions Board) forms. For UACE candidates of 2022, the deadline for submitting PUJAB form is January 20, 2023.

Although not mandatory, it is important to complete and submit PUJAB forms because only those who do so are eligible for government undergraduate scholarships in public universities and institutions. So, for many students from humble backgrounds, and rural schools, this PUJAB form may be the only hope for pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Yet, the current process and procedure of getting, completing and submitting PUJAB forms is hectic, and confusing. Consequently, many A-level schools, and students deliberately decline to fill them. The processing begins with Makerere University (the coordinating center) issuing notice to schools (usually in November, or December).

After the above procedure, schools pay for the number of forms they need (52,000 each), forms are then given to students to fill, and collect signatures from the Local Council I, Local Council III, and school headteacher. Students then return forms to school, and finally, the forms are delivered, and submitted to the office of the academic registrar of Makerere University.

Truth be told, the process of filling the form itself is confusing, with many students confusing between National Merit programmes, and District Quota programmes. Additionally, calculating the cut-off points for the respective study programmes is hectic, even for teachers, considering that UACE results are not yet out. The way it is now, you have to calculate weights for UCE results, and make a prediction of your yet to be released UACE results. This is both unfair, and misleading.

This process can be made much simpler, for both students, and schools. In 2022, Makerere University developed an online portal for PUJAB. You recall that due to the unprecedented disruption caused by Covid-19, there were no PLE, UCE and UACE exams for the year 2021.

This online portal therefore solicited applications from students who had sat for UACE in 2020 (done in 2021), 2019, and 2018. This online portal greatly helped, and I expected it to be adopted going forward.

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As a teacher, I have seen firsthand how difficult and tiresome the whole process is, for both schools/teachers, and students. I am firmly of the opinion that the process of filling PUJAB forms should be reformed, the following issues should be considered.

Firstly, we should allow UACE leavers to fill PUJAB forms when their UACE results have been released. That way they will be able to accurately calculate both UCE and UACE points based on reality, not assumptions. Considering that the normal academic year for public universities starts in August of the following year, there’s really no need to rush students to fill PUJAB forms in December (exam year).

Secondly, an online option of filling PUJAB forms should be allowed, for those who can have access to the Internet. But due to the challenge of digital inequality in especially rural schools, the usual hardcopy procedures must be maintained. The online portal

Thirdly, feedback must be provided to students, acknowledging receipt of their PUJAB form, and also the outcome of their application, be it positive or negative. The current system provides no feedback of any kind to the student.

Students are deliberately kept in the dark, and the only way they know whether they have been considered is through the newspapers, or university admission lists. Simple response through text messages, and email is sufficient.

Fourthly, just like other government programmes, sensitization of the masses about PUJAB forms must be done via radio, television, newspapers and on the Internet. This way, more parents can learn more about PUJAB forms, so that they can avail the necessary support for their UACE candidates.

There are many reforms, and good things happening at the Ministry of Education of Sports. Reforming the PUJAB form application process should be one of them. While the current system looks sufficient and enables the government to get the 4,000 students to award government scholarships, it is not all-inclusive, and disenfranchises other students. The way it is now, it is part of the reason why many students from rural schools do not appear in government scholarship lists.

Emmanuel Angoda (author of this) is the founder of Triskelion Education and Skills Initiative (TESI), and teacher of ICT at Lira Town College.

angodaemmanuel@gmail.com

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