The advent of the novel coronavirus has left the world rethinking new ways of doing most things. One such area is the education sector, where countries are struggling to understand how schooling can continue amid the Covid-19 pandemic as scientists search for a vaccine.
In Uganda, the government has started developing an online syllabus for both primary and secondary education. It is expected to be ready in two weeks’ time.
The syllabus is being developed by the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) in consultation with Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb).
The developers say the syllabus will cover all subjects, except areas that require practicals and involve students using ‘dangerous chemicals’ that will be deferred to when schools reopen.
When well thought through, the homeschooling and new syllabus should be well aligned to deal with functional home learning. Necessity is the mother of creation, the adage goes.
Ms Grace Baguma, the director NCDC, says they are working on materials for the entire year where the children are going to continue learning new concepts on their own.
NCDC is now being called upon to play its role, a role that is supposed to be continuous though.
The home learning syllabus being developed should be cognisant of the different settings, namely urban versus rural, affluent versus impoverished families, hard-to-reach areas against properly settled communities such as those in flood-prone areas and refugee camps.
The homeschooling syllabus should indicate levels of supervision and coverage of learning areas.
And since a syllabus is an organised and well thought out set of learning areas, it cannot be designed in only weeks.
It takes a lot of input from different stakeholders and experts to design something that can stand the test of time.
The homeschooling syllabus content generation needs to involve key stakeholders such as classroom teachers who will advise on how much can be absorbed in what time in a setting unfamiliar to the learners, since NCDC says learners will be expected to teach themselves in the new arrangement without the help of a teacher.
This, however, would present a new challenge where, for example, the parents or guardians are illiterate or the learning areas are not familiar to the parents to offer any help.
Given that the Covid-19 vaccine is not in sight soon, this homeschooling process should remain work in progress, to help realign our syllabus to cater for all times, for now and in the future.