Cabinet clears new secondary school curriculum

In-charge. First Lady and minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni appears before the education committee at Parliament in January. PHOTO BY DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Following an assessment of the lower secondary curriculum in 2007, it was established that it was overloaded with subjects which were expensive to implement, focused on academic achievements and its assessment only encouraged cram work.

Cabinet yesterday cleared the Ministry of Education to continue with the implementation of the revised lower secondary curriculum despite Parliament resolution to halt it and allow government prepare for its rollout.

Sources close to Cabinet but preferred anonymity told Daily Monitor yesterday that the Minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni, was given the greenlight after briefing her Cabinet on what her ministry’s technical team had done in the last 12 years to put the curriculum together.

“Cabinet has cleared the curriculum,” the source said, adding, “the ministry is now ready to implement it.”
When contacted for a comment on whether Cabinet had okayed the curriculum contrary to Parliament resolution last week, Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, could neither confirm nor rule out the decision.

“I wouldn’t be surprised given that the curriculum was supposed to be rolled out this term. It is possible that Cabinet discussed it,” Mr Kakooza said, but added:
“We cannot disobey Parliament. As my minister stated, we have gone to Cabinet today [yesterday] for guidance on how to implement the recommendations. I am waiting for that guidance.”

Issues in the curriculum
Following an assessment of the lower secondary curriculum in 2007, it was established that it was overloaded with subjects which were expensive to implement, focused on academic achievements and its assessment only encouraged cram work.

The ministry then embarked on the curriculum review a year later to consider the new changes in science and technology and promote creativity among learners.

Releasing the 2019 Primary Leaving Examinations, Ms Museveni announced that the curriculum was ready to be rolled out and that teachers were being trained in preparation for the Senior One students when they report for their First Term on February 17.

But there were reports of underfunding and that the ministry received money late to enable them train teachers.
The reporting date of February 3 for continuing students in some schools that were hosting teachers for training was extended by a week.

Members of Parliament are concerned that a good curriculum could be ruined if its implementation is not well facilitated.

On Tuesday February 4, they voted to halt its implementation until all teachers were trained and schools furnished with new textbooks to facilitate the teaching and learning.

At yesterday’s meeting, the minister informed Cabinet that they were ready to begin and they would correct whatever goes wrong along the way.
She said a number of consultations had been made including MPs on Parliament committee on education.

Queries
The ministry has further responded to some of the MPs queries on teacher training, availability of teaching materials, absence of Kiswahili teachers and why Agriculture was made optional yet it supports 75 per cent of the economy.
Other areas of concern were on students who will change school and the assessment model.

But the ministry said each learner is to be given an identification number, which they will use to track their records regardless of where they go.
On Agriculture, the government noted it was expensive to make it compulsory since many schools do not have land and equipment

“Agriculture is practical and requires resources such as land and equipment and making it compulsory wouldn’t make it effective for the government,” reads part of a document from the ministry.
The new curriculum will have 21 subjects instead of 43 in the previous one.

Releasing Uganda Business and Technical examinations on Friday, Ms Museveni said: “We have heard concerns raised by MPs regarding the roll out of the lower secondary curriculum. We plan to present this matter to Cabinet for guidance of the sector so that we know for now how to go.”

She added: “I would like Parliament to walk with us this journey. Some of them are parents and leaders. We want them to feel confident that what we are bringing is good for our children and this country.”

Senior One and Two students will study 12 subjects 11 of which are compulsory. As they advance to Senior Three, the compulsory subjects will reduce to seven and the candidates will exit after four years with a minimum of eight subjects and a maximum of nine.

Textbooks
On the issue of textbooks, the ministry said the syllabus for the compulsory subjects had already been distributed to both private and government schools. They said National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) was using prototypes to train teachers.

At the release, Ms Kakooza said actual textbooks would be ready in July. He acknowledged that while they needed Shs70 billion for the first phase, the money was not readily available. They then cut their budget to Shs39 billion.

They have so far received Shs10.3 billion.
“… we have gone ahead and improvised and got exemplars which we have distributed to all government and private schools in order for them to begin. The Shs10.3 billion which we have got for these activities will take us through the first phase. We expect to get more money in the next quarter. We are ready to proceed,” Mr Kakooza said.

According to Ms Grace Baguma, NCDC executive director, they have 1,246 Kiswahili teachers who she added were enough to roll out the now compulsory subject.

Content
The new curriculum will have 21 subjects instead of 43 in the previous one.
Senior One and Two students will study 12 subjects 11 of which are compulsory. As they advance to Senior Three, the compulsory subjects will reduce to seven and the candidates will exit after four years with a minimum of eight subjects and a maximum of nine.

Secondary school
Ministry of Education statistics:
Secondary school enrolment stands at 1,457,277 students.
Secondary teachers are 67, 209
There are 4,077 secondary schools across the country. Of these, 944 are licensed and registered government schools while 2,014 are private.
Another 122 government schools are licensed but not registered compared to 239 in the private sector.
At least 622 private schools are unlicensed.

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