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Female enrollment remains low as 2,809 pass allied health exams

L-R: Education state ministers Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu (Primary), Dr John Muyingo (Higher Education), UAHEB chairperson Rose Nassali, executive secretary Joseph Agondua, and permanent secretary Ketty Lamaro

L-R: Education state ministers Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu (Primary), Dr John Muyingo (Higher Education), UAHEB chairperson Rose Nassali, executive secretary Joseph Agondua, and permanent secretary Ketty Lamaro

The Uganda Allied Health Examinations Board (UAHEB) has noted an overall improvement in the performance of candidates who sat the June 2023 final semester examinations across 223 examination centers.

While presenting the results at UAHEB offices in Kyambogo last Friday, the executive secretary, Joseph Agondua, attributed what he called “exceptional performance” this year to candidates having more time in the practicum areas and adequate coverage of the curriculum content.

“The candidates’ performance was generally good with an overall improvement of 8.6% compared to the previous academic year 2021/22. The board feels the candidates can perform better with the increased number of trained tutors, effective management of trainees logbooks, and adequate supply of practical equipment in the skills laboratories,” Agondua said.

The June 2023 examinations comprised both continuing and final semester candidates. At least 22,331 candidates registered for the examinations. Of these, 3,449 were finalists while 18,882 were continuing students.

Some 20 candidates missed the examinations because they did not satisfy the 75% class attendance requirement, but they have an opportunity to sit papers when offered next. Of the 18,882 continuing candidates, 22,311 were assessed.

The majority of finalists assessed were males at 2,328, and 1,113 females. Overall, 2,809 (81.6%) finalists passed the examinations compared to 2,359 (73%) that were assessed in the previous academic year 2020/21. Agondua noted that whereas the enrolment of females remains low in allied health training, the few who enroll are performing well with minimal retakes.

The results show that of the 3,441 assessed finalists, at least 939 (84%) females passed while 174 (16%) got retakes. Some 1,870 (80%) males passed while 458 (20%) had retakes. Notably, of the 15 programs, candidates under Occupational Therapy did not perform well with a 56% failure rate after some candidates missed some papers.

The state minister for Higher Education, Dr John Muyingo, who presided over the release, commended UAHEB for effective service delivery and completion of its office block amidst several budgetary constraints.

“I appreciate the general increase of numbers of candidates by 209 (8.6%), and that of female candidates from 977 to 1,113 (12%). This is commendable, although, in the spirit of equitable access to education, more efforts are still required to attract more females to Allied Health Professional Training and Education,” Muyingo said.

He said the increment in the number of successful candidates will add more competent health workers to the existing workforce for the health sector and have a ripple effect on service delivery.

Muyingo also approved the cancellation of results for three candidates from Kampala School of Health Sciences, St Elizabeth Health Professionals College and Gulu Institute of Health Sciences who were involved in examination malpractice. He said this is the only way we will ensure “assessment for quality health.”

MERGER ON THE WAY

Meanwhile, the Education ministry permanent secretary, Ketty Lamaro, said discussions are ongoing with the ministry of Public Service to implement the cabinet resolution on the Rationalization of Agencies and Public Expenditure (RAPEX) next year.

In the reform, all health sciences assessment bodies under the sector; UAHEB and Uganda Nurses and Midwives Examinations Board (UNMEB) will be merged into one body dubbed the Uganda Health Professionals Assessment Board (UHPAB).

She explained that the merger intends to make competencies and awards gained by trainees more credible in the East African Community and elsewhere in the world of work.

The UAHEB chairperson, Rose Nassali Mugumisiriza, urged the ministry to consider recruiting staff to strengthen effective training of allied health workers. She said the recent staff promotions absorbed most senior tutors at higher positions, thus leaving a vacuum at the lower levels.

“We request that the ban on recruitment of staff pending the merger be selectively considered so as not to paralyze the work between now and the planned merger in July 2024. Currently, the board alone is operating at half capacity yet critical positions such as human resource and administrator are vacant,” Nassali said.

UAHEB comprises only 34 staff [including eight examination officers] out of the prescribed 64 personnel at the secretariat. Nassali also wants the ministry to review all pending allied health curricula to make it competency-based, provide equipment and learning materials, and enhance supervision of institutions to manage clinical practice and monitoring to guarantee improved performance in skills acquisition.

nangonzi@observer.ug

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