Lack of enough desks on Monday forced more than 60 candidates sitting for their PLE Exams in Agago district to spread their exam papers on mats laid on bare ground or on their laps.
The candidates sitting at Ajali Anyena Primary Schools in Agago town council were drawn from the host school, Ajali Atede and Ajali Lajwaa primary schools.
They are part of 124 pupils merged from the three schools to sit at the center by Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB).
Andrew Okidi, the head teacher of Ajali Anyena Primary School said that the school could manage to get desks for 56 pupils.
Okidi said attempts to borrow extra seats from neighbouring Ngora Primary school also failed due to inadequate number of furniture at the school.
Let with no option, UNEB officials deployed at the center asked the candidates to improvise some mats on which to sit on and spread their papers on the dusty classroom floors.
John Ocaya, the senior UNEB scout deployed at the center said the inadequate preparation delayed the start of the exams by at least 30 minutes.
Ocaya said he compromised on UNEB standards requiring such a center to be closed down to allow the pupils sit their exams after 7 long years of study.
Jusper Ocaya and Eddie Omollo, a UNEB invigilator and supervisor said that sitting pupils on the floor during exams has become a usual business happening at the center every year.
Walter Knox Otim, the UNEB examination monitor at the center explained that the candidates had to be brought together for ease of supervision instead of only 25 candidates per class. He swiftly ruled out malpractices from the center.
Grace Apio, the Agago district inspector of schools was so furious when she visited the schools during the examination. She said another nine pupils were also affected in Abone Primary School.
Apio described the situation as negligence of duty on the parts of the school administrators for their failure to craft solutions to the problems.
She ordered Police to record statements from the three school head teachers to justify why they should not be subjected to disciplinary measures for flouting UNEB regulations and negligence of duties.
We could not independently verify whether they recorded statements or not and whether candidates have been sitting exams this way in past years. The best performances recorded at the center in recent years are second grades in 2013.
Agago district registered an increase in the number of candidates to more than 3,500 pupils for the 2014 PLE exams.
The candidates sat for Mathematics and Social Studies on Monday. On the second day of exams, they will take parts in Integrated Science and English in the morning and afternoon respectively.
While the candidates appeared calm during the examinations, the story highlights the different challenges candidates in post conflict Acholi land go through to compete in national examinations with their counterparts in well-furnished and aided schools in capital Kampala, the home of Uganda National Examination Board and the Ministry of education and Sports.
Regardless of the hard conditions for exams, they have to play by the same set of rules to progress to secondary education.
Revising their notes under kerosene lantern every night, it is extremely difficult to tell at this point whether they can score the required marks to benefit from the Universal Secondary Education (USE) scheme.