Parliament halts new O-Level curriculum

Thursday February 06 2020
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In defence. State minister for Primary Education Rosemary Seninde addresses Parliament about the new lower secondary curriculum on February 4, 2020. PHOTO BY DAVID LUBOWA

The newly revised lower secondary curriculum that was scheduled for implementation this school term has been halted for the second time in four years to allow government to fix the deficiencies.
Parliament voted to halt the implementation on Tuesday after stormy proceedings. The House asked the Ministry of Education to suspend the curriculum until government is ready to implement it.

The MPs wondered how government, through the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), could roll out the curriculum without textbooks to aid the teaching and learning and majority of the teachers are not yet trained on the new methodologies.
Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga wondered how the ministry could table prototype documents with disclaimers as materials being used to train a few teachers.
“Content and images have been adopted from several sources, which might not fully be acknowledged. This document, therefore, is prohibited from being used for commercial purposes and content,” Mr Mpuuga said.
He added: “This is called organised chaos. The supervisors of our institutions are head teachers. But they are green about this curriculum. I don’t think we are ready. We ask the minister to retract the policy for the good of this country and our children.”

When the matter was finally put to vote, the “Ayes” carried the day.
The Parliament debate on the curriculum followed State Minister for Primary Education Rosemary Seninde’s statement in which she said the ministry was ready to implement the revised curriculum whose process they started 12 years ago.
“The new curriculum is competence-based aimed at exposing learners to issues of creativity and innovativeness and emphasises values which have been a challenge,” she said. In a separate interview yesterday, Mr Mpuuga said there is a need to pilot the curriculum, identify the gaps and rectify them before rolling it out to schools.

Ministry’s position
Mr Alex Kakooza, the Ministry of Education permanent secretary, on Tuesday asked the public to allow the ministry start the implementation and improve along the way.
“We had a slow start because we got money a bit late. We had logistical problems. We have improvised. Otherwise, we will never start. What do you want us to do? People are not looking at where we are coming from. We are not ready not because of our own making. We have finally got some money. We have some materials to start with. We have to start the challenges notwithstanding. We shall succeed,” Mr Kakooza said.

In 2016, as NCDC warmed up to implement a curriculum that had taken them about eight years, a meeting with the President and university chancellors resolved that it be suspended to allow more consultations and adjustments in some proposals. The Uganda National Teachers’ Union secretary (Unatu), Mr Filbert Baguma, yesterday said they are not opposed to the new curriculum but want its implementation to be systematic in order to achieve the intended results.

“Little is known in this new secondary curriculum. The teachers have not been enough in the old curriculum. The new curriculum is going to be more demanding because it will require individual learner assessment. If they don’t recruit more teachers, don’t expect much from it,” Mr Baguma said.
However, Mr Patrick Kaboyo, the secretary of the Federation of Non-State Education Institutions (FENEI), an umbrella organisation that brings private schools together, asked all stakeholders to support the ministry and allow them time to roll out the revised curriculum.
“There is goodness in the curriculum. The only problem is that people resist change everywhere. A curriculum is not an event,” Mr Kaboyo said.

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