Uganda: Court Bans National Exams On Muslim Public Holidays

By Betty Ndagire

The Constitutional Court has in a landmark judgment, ordered government through the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) to refrain from organising national examinations on gazetted Muslim religious days of Idd-ul-Fitr and Idd al-Adhuha.

In a unanimous decision rendered on Tuesday, five justices of the court held that government has been infringing on the rights of Muslim students.

“I would issue a permanent injunction to order the first respondent (Uneb) to refrain from conducting examinations on any day coinciding with any of the relevant Muslim religious holidays to which Idd-ul-Fitr and Idd al-Adhuha,” ruled Justice Elizabeth Musoke, who wrote the lead judgment.

Adding: “The practice of the first respondent (Uneb), in organising examinations for students under its mandate to be written on any day coinciding with any of the relevant Muslim religious holidays is inconsistent of the right to freedom of religion of Muslim students in particular the right to manifest their practice of religion through observance of religious holidays guaranteed under the Constitution.”

Justice Musoke ruled that going forward, examinations should be postponed.

Justice Muzamiru Kibeedi, one of the other five justices, said the two religious days are designated in the Public Holidays Act to be observed and kept as public holidays, and that there should be no lawful justification for not honouring them.