Friday August 1 2014

New curriculum to equip learners with life skills

Creative arts, a new subject, will help

Creative arts, a new subject, will help learners develop their understanding of contemporary and historical arts within their own communities, the country and beyond Photo FAISAL KASIRYE 

By Caesar Abangirah

After successfully carrying out the Labour Market Survey, the National Curriculum Development Centre will in 2017 roll out the repackaged lower secondary curriculum.
The new curriculum assessment and examination reform (Curasse), will see the overall number of subjects reduced to eight mainly by grouping existing ones. These are Maths, Religious Education, Science, Life Education, Languages, Social Studies, Technology and Enterprise and Creative Arts. All learning areas will be compulsory for all Ordinary Level students.
Curasse, which kicked off two years ago ‘aims at shifting from the ‘old tried and trusted model of secondary education which was designed for a minority of children in order to prepare them for higher education and public service to a broader more inclusive curriculum designed to satisfy needs of all abilities.’

According to Ms Connie Kateba, the NCDC director, the reformed curriculum will provide each and every learner an opportunity to acquire the knowledge, understanding, skills and values essential for one to live a productive and successful life after school.
“It will unlock learners’ talents enabling them to realise their potential,” Ms Kateba said this week, during the launch of the Curasse in Kampala.
“The Labour Market Survey conducted at the start of Curasse, provided information about what employers wanted from secondary school graduates. These generic skills give us the basis for the job-specific training that commercial enterprises give new recruits,” sheadded,

What new Curriculum seeks to change.
According to John Okumu, Technology and Enterprise specialist at NCDC, the current curriculum is heavily loaded and theoretical, with learners taking in a lot of irrelevant material.
The new curriculum will therefore see content laden text books replaced with interactive learner friendly material reducing long hours of instructional time that don’t allow learners to explore what they have learned.
“It will change the excess mass of subject content that doesn’t deliver required skills for the labour market,” he said.
Technology and Enterprise have combined, among others, Commerce, Accounts and Entrepreneurship.
A science expert, James Droti believes the new curriculum, which was developed in partnership with Cambridge Education, will help avoid repetition.
Biology, Chemistry and Physics have been grouped into Science.
“It will take into consideration the abilities of a learner and change the mass of subject content that is not delivering the required skills for the labour market,” he said.
The framework proposes that earners get eight periods of 40 minutes per day, making it 1,600 learning minutes per week.
A new assessment system that rewards achievement at the individual level has also been developed to replace the traditional content-based examination that emphasises recall of information.

Subjects of new curriculum

Creative arts will comprise dance, drama, art and music, and according to National Curriculum Development Centre, will help learners to make sense of themselves, their relationships with others and the environment in which they live. Creative arts help learners to develop their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of contemporary and historical arts within their own communities, within Uganda and beyond. Learners will enjoy numerous and diverse opportunities to contribute, to reflect on and respond to the arts within their own and other cultures.
Languages: English and Kiswahili will be compulsory languages. Learners will have the option of choosing to learn a local language or a foreign language, depending on their school. Separate language frameworks and proficiency scales have been developed for English, Kiswahili, local and foreign languages.
Life Education will ensure that young people develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing, while at school and later in adult life. This, according to the framework, will enable them to develop good relationships and have respect for differences between people.
Mathematics will put a strong emphasis on the essential mathematical skills that all citizens need for full and effective participation in civil, social and economic life. It focuses primarily on the needs of the great majority of learners, who may be expected to leave school at the end of Senior 4 or to continue to further training and studies in non-mathematical subjects. It will allow learners to proceed to a wide range of further opportunities after Senior Four.
Religious Education aims to inculcate spiritual and moral well being in learners. It will ensure that young people develop the knowledge, understandings, skills, values and attitudes which contribute to spiritual wellbeing, while at school and throughout life. After four years, learners will discover the meaning and purpose of morality and the values that are upheld by society. For this reason it is compulsory that all learners study Religious Education.
Science will help learners acquire knowledge about, and understanding of, the living, material and physical world. They will learn to value the processes that support life on our planet. According to the reformed curriculum, they will appreciate the application of Science in the protection and enhancement of the natural and built environment. They will become aware of a range of technologies, and learn about how Science contributes to technological progress and begin to appreciate the impact of Science on their own health and wellbeing, the health of society and the health of the environment.
Social Studies will combine elements of the hitherto separate domains of Geography, History, Government and Politics, Economics and Sociology. It emphasises the relationship between these domains of study. At the lower secondary level, it is important to develop the understanding that all aspects of people, society and environment are inter-related. The study of Social Studies develops their knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that learners need to participate actively in society
Technology and Enterprise provides a learning environment where learners can acquire and apply a wide range of the generic skills. Learners also acquire a range of skills that derive from the various traditional subject areas – food and nutrition, textiles, agriculture, enterprise skills, ICT, design skills from the vocational subjects. The skills are acquired by a programme of study designed as a sequence of modules within each year level.