Govt in dilemma over abridged curriculum

Teachers  check luggage of students at St. Kizito Secondary School in Namugongo on January 10, 2022. Photo/ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • Government last week approved the new post Covid-19 curriculum, seeking to help learners cope-up under automatic promotion arrangements.
  • This means that government has to print 1.2 million copies of abridged curriculum for primary schools.

  • At secondary level, there are about 20 different subjects studied by students in Senior Two, Three and Four. 


Teachers have vowed to abandon the new abridged post Covid-19 curriculum, after it emerged that the government doesn’t have funds to print millions of hard copies to distribute to more than 40,000 schools across the country,  Monitor has learnt.
Teachers, majority of whom are from upcountry areas, yesterday locked horns with the government, after the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) asked schools to download soft copies from its website.

This  move was not welcomed by teachers who said accessing data and internet upcountry is a big challenge, asking the government not to add another burden of downloading textbooks from online.
“If government tells us to download soft copies of the new curriculum from online, then we are going to miss out,” Mr Alex Byamukama, a chemistry and math teacher at St Charles Lwanga, said.
The NCDC that developed the new curriculum on behalf of the Education ministry, was yesterday training teachers from across the country on how to deliver the abridged curriculum to learners on zoom.

A number of teachers Daily Monitor spoke to after the training, lamented of how they faced a big challenge of data to complete the seven-hour zoom training session.
Mr Hilary Omwanawomuntu, a math and physics teacher at St Paul SS, Kabale District, said his school is currently financially constrained and will not be able to print copies of the learning materials.
“As teachers, we shall be able to deliver this curriculum even without enough training, but accessing it is now a big problem if it remains online. Government should find means of delivering hard copies to all schools,” Mr Omwanawomuntu said.

Soft copies of the new curriculum have since been uploaded on the NCDC website where teachers and schools, are supposed to access them from.
The Uganda National Teacher’s Union (Unatu) secretary general, Mr  Filbert Baguma, said teachers will use the old curriculum which is already in a hard copy if the new ones are not printed.
“Government approved the new curriculum a few days to reopening of schools. We gave them benefit of doubt that they can use the remaining time to print the abridged curriculum and deliver it to all schools,” Mr Baguma explained.

He added: “Now they are asking teachers to download the copies to where?. These are big documents. In the event that government doesn’t print hard copies of the new curriculum, teachers will use what’s is available and those are the old ones.”
Copies required
Sources at the ministry say there are 35,000 primary schools and 6,000 secondary schools countrywide.
At primary level, learners study six subjects: English, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies, Christian Religious Education and Islamic Religious Education.

If each school is to receive six copies per class, they would get 36 copies.
This means that government has to print 1.2 million copies of abridged curriculum for primary schools.
At secondary level, there are about 20 different subjects studied by students in Senior Two, Three and Four. This means that government will have to print about 120,000 copies of text books for secondary schools.

A source at the NCDC said government would need about Shs30b if it’s to meet all the printing costs for the required number of copies.
Education ministry speaks out
The Education Ministry  spokesperson, Mr Denis Mugimba, yesterday said whereas the abridged curriculum was approved late, the ministry is aware that it has to print hard copies for schools in hard -to-reach areas.
He said  they have asked the Ministry of Finance to release Shs12b it withheld from the NCDC during Covid-19 to enable the printing of hard copies.

“The Ministry of Finance froze Shs12b of the NCDC which was budgeted for under this financial year. We have written to them to release this money to facilitate the printing of some copies. This should be adequate, ”Mr Mugimba explained.
According to Mr Mugimba, the copies will only be supplied to schools upcountry because those in urban areas can easily download the soft copies.


BACKGROUND
Government last week approved the new post Covid-19 curriculum, seeking to help learners cope-up under automatic promotion arrangements.
The new curriculum is not a departure from the existing one, but rather a modification of the same with the purpose of recovering the lost learning time with minimum learning loss.
Learners lost study time during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns that lasted for close to two years.
 

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