In 1987, the Education Policy Review Commission (EPRC) under the chairmanship of Prof W. Senteza Kajubi, inquired into the policies governing education in Uganda which later came up with the 1992 education white Paper. It was further studied extensively by the Katebalirwe’s committee which had 40 more people from all parts of Uganda. In the report, one of the key recommendations was to vocationalise secondary education. It proposed that Secondary education should take three routes; General Education (knowledge learning line), comprehensive (partly knowledge and skills) and vocational education to impart skills to learners for employment. However, this plan didn’t succeed because the focus has been on university education.
It’s a good practice to revise a curriculum in 5-10 years to check and update emerging issues. Uganda’s curriculum, even amidst the 21st century changes had never been revised. The only new thing has been the addition of more subjects and content.
Following a number of subsequent initiatives, it’s over twenty-six years later that the government is doing a service to its people to realize this 1992 recommendation. As an educationist, a parent and a citizen, I applaud all stakeholders in the success of this noble job, regardless of the challenges ahead.
The Ministry of Education and Sports with financial support from World Bank have developed and launched a new/revised education curriculum inclusive of new assessment and examination system.
However, the legislators remain pessimistic and are still demanding clarification from the ministry on some issues. The lower secondary curriculum, assessment and examination reform programme (CURASSE) was as a result of the continuous public outcry of lack of the necessary employable skills among the ever-increasing graduates from education institutions who flood the job market but with skill gaps to meet the needs of the employers. With the new curriculum which is competence based and emphasizing skill development, answers to employers seem to be answered.
The new curriculum presents a lot of benefits to the nation though its sustainability is still questionable because of resource constraints especially for the poor – rural and off grid schools, besides other limitations.
The competence based curriculum offers broad and balanced education that emphasizes how to learn; not just learning to pass a year’s examination. It focuses on four key learning outcomes; self-assured individuals, responsible and patriotic citizens, lifelong learners and positive contributors to society. The expected generic skills of the new curriculum are; communication, social and interpersonal skills, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving and workplace behaviour, among others. Classroom hours start from 8:30am to 2:50pm; and then 2:50pm to 4:30pm is dedicated to co-curricular activities and self-study. This reduces content overload and contact hours in the classroom so as to create time for research, project work, talent development, creativity and erasing obsolete information.
Out of the approved 20 subjects, a school is expected to select 12 subjects on the menu. At S1 and S2, learners will offer 11 compulsory subjects plus one elective subject. At S3 and S4, learners are expected to offer a minimum of eight and maximum of nine subjects, out of which seven are compulsory. The eleven compulsory subjects at S1 and S2 are: English, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History and Political Education, Physical Education, Kiswahili and Religious Education plus one elective of a vocational subject. All learners with special educational needs will do General Science as an alternative to Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In the framework, emphasis has been placed on integrating ICT in all the subjects as a pedagogical tool to produce 21st century workers.
According to the framework, all learners in senior three will be subjected to occupational assessment in various vocational subjects by the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) before sitting senior four examinations managed by the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB). Individual modules will be assessed and awarded in S1 and S2 while the entire occupation will be assessed in S3 leading to the award of a Level one national certificate of competence.
At senior five, learners that continue with vocational subjects can be assessed and awarded level two certificate before sitting senior six UNEB final examinations. This implies that even at S.3, a learner can be employed and already has a DIT certificate ready for the labour market.
Most importantly, in the new curriculum, a teacher is seen as a facilitator building on what a learner already knows.
The new curriculum emphasizes that the learner performs the activities while the teacher facilitates during the learning process. Learners will be more of knowledge creators than consumers, which avoids rote learning and cramming of concepts, which has been a disease for Uganda’s education. It’s worth noting that the new curriculum will train problem solvers, critical thinkers, communicators, creative entrepreneurs and there will be a paradigm shift from theory to practical education. As we prepare to reap a lot of benefits from the new curriculum, its sustainability remains questionable. For example, for a school to offer Agriculture, it will need at least 20 acres of land to succeed in this subject. This automatically disqualifies most urban schools and yet even rural schools may be excluded because of the financial implication to maintain gardens. This is also the same in DIT assessments, ICT and subjects that require equipment and tools. Off grid and rural schools face issues with electricity and computer connectivity unless rural electrification program triples its effort.
On the part of government, it’s been estimated that to implement the new curriculum, NCDC requires 143 billion for only the year 2020 with 73 billion required to kick start the process. Some teachers have already manifested some resistance and pessimism that the new curriculum will not work. This calls for continuous behavioral change communication to iron out the old man in our dear teachers. To some teachers, its business unusual especially those who have been reaping abnormal profits from pamphlet business which seem to have been declared irrelevant in the new curriculum unless otherwise.
Under the new curriculum, teachers will compile the learners’ achievements under the formative assessment in the four-year cycle, find an average score and submit it to the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) to contribute at least 20 per cent in the final national examinations grading. This may be an avenue for teachers to become corrupt if not well managed.
Amidst the odds, it should be noted that the new curriculum is a win-win situation for the leaners, schools, implementers, Legislators and the country at large.
By Tumwesigye Michael
Oct 14, 2015 Comments Off on Who is responsible for the Performance in schools?
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