By Akite beatrice Wanyama
The government has overhauled the O-Level curriculum, dropping or merging 23 subjects and approving only 20 to be taught. The method of assessing performance of lower secondary students has been revised, with Uganda Certificate of Education examination results now accounting for 80 per cent. Under the new arrangement, a continuous competence assessment based on skills attained in subjects taught from Senior One to Four will account for 20 per cent of the O-Level final score. Students will still take inter-class promotional examinations but the focus of the teaching and learning will shift from marks-based objective approach to one that emphasizes competence or acquired skills. The teaching of North American Geography and Canadian Prairies, which is about mass wheat growing, has been scrapped off. There had been up to 43 subjects examined in O-Level, which were reduced to 32 by the former Education minister Namirembe Bitamazire
There will be seven subjects which will be compulsory while a Senior Four candidate will be expected to take a maximum of 10 examinable subjects out of 13 taught in S1 and S2. Technical Drawing, Wood Work and Metal Work have been merged into the newly-introduced subject; Technology and Design.
Home Economics was dropped as a stand-alone subject and is now subsumed under Food and Nutrition. Schools will be expected to run classes from 8:30am to 2:30pm, allowing students two additional hours each day for self-discovery and engagement with teachers before school closure at 4:30pm.
Approved O-Level subjects
Information Communication and Technology
Nutrition and Food Technology
Technology and Design
Performing Arts (Music, Dance and Drama)
Literature in English
Some dropped subjects
Power and Energy
Electricity and Electronics
Textile and clothing
Building and construction
Fasihi ya Kiswahili
Textile and Clothing
Mushikoma Innocent, the Deputy Head teacher, Trust High School Kabubbu says that much as the new curriculum is a saviour to the overly burdened curriculum, there could be a number of challenges. On the brighter side, he notes that the new curriculum could be a way to aid learners get better equipped with practical skills to face the world. This will be possible by having more practical subjects than the current curriculum which is highly theory based.
Innocent says the new curriculum could have challenges of subjects being overloaded into one entity. This, he says will affect the teachers who will have too much to cover. He says that leaners will still be challenged by the lumped up subjects.
With classes running from 8.30am-2.30pm, Mr. Mushikoma says it will be viable to help leaners have ample time for co-curricular activities as well as personal research. Observing that there is too much drilling done for leaners to obtain results, the new curriculum will check these practices. With the new time schedule, He believes that it will enable leaners have time to internalize something they have been taught. This will help to develop other skills of the learners.
On the other hand, Ms. Sarah Ayero a lecturer at the Department of Human Nutrition and Home Economics, Kyambogo University says when the new curriculum becomes operational; a few aspects of taking Home Management will be lost. She says that the new curriculum may come with a challenge of grooming people who are not equipped with simple personal administration skills like stitching. The irony she cites is that the new curriculum which is meant to equip leaners with skills will have some skills rubbished off. To better prepare the teachers, she says there will be need for refresher courses.
According to Mr. Tusiime Peter Paul, a teacher of Geography at St. Kizito S.S Bugolobi, the new curriculum has come in handy. He says it has been long over due as there are aspects that are irrelevant in the Ugandan context. He explained that the Canadian Prairies which has been dropped is being used as a case study to teach modern Agriculture on a large scale. He explains that the challenge they have been facing is that the places are abstract to the learners. He observes that learners have limited knowledge on the Geography of Uganda which will be catered for in the new curriculum. ‘Uganda has a rich Geography. Learners do not know about their country but others,’ he decried. He says that not much will be lost as the Geography of China and the Rhinelands will fill in the gaps.
Chaiga Charles a teacher of Fine Art says, the idea of merging the subjects is a brilliant move. He says it makes sense for a person to have knowledge of say, technical drawing, Wood Work and metal Work in Technology and design as the leaners will be better equipped with skills from three subjcet areas. He says this opens more doors for better opportunities than having knowledge in one subject area. He observes that the new curriculum will not be a challenge but comments that many people are scared of changes and how to adapt. He foresees workshops and refresher courses to equip the teachers with skills to carry on the new curriculum.
The new curriculum for O-Level could be a blessing in disguise. While there are a number of ticks for the curriculum basing on equipping leaners with global skills, the challenges can not be ignored. The teachers, leaners, parents and the general public need to be equipped with skills to enable them be part and parcel of building the future generation.
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