New curriculum: Teachers  express mixed reactions

Pupils attend a class at Buganda Road Primary School on January 11. PHOTO/ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • Mr Issa Matovu, an education expert, advises teachers to embrace the new curriculum as it addresses time lags created by the closure of schools due to Covid-19.

Teachers in various schools across the country have expressed mixed reactions over the abridged curriculum with some saying they still teach learners using the old learning package.
The curriculum, which the Ministry of Education rolled out last month as schools reopened for a new term, condensed material of two years into one year, covering what learners missed when schools were closed as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, a pupil who was in Primary Two before the two-year lockdown is currently being taught material for both classes. This is intended to enable learners “make up” for the time lost after the closure of schools.
On Monday, the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) indicated that it will set this year’s national examinations based on the new curriculum.

Although some teachers support the learning package, others say it is logistically untenable.

Mr David Eragu, the head teacher of Dakabela Comprehensive Community School, Soroti District, says they are still using the old curriculum after failing to access the new one.
 “Being a community school, not for profit .We are financially-constrained  to afford the new curriculum, the ministry  advised us to write a report, which we did and  are still waiting for a response,” Mr Eragu says .
The school has 250 students from Senior One to Senior Four.
However, government-aided schools such as Soroti SS, Teso College Aloet, Ngora High School, St Elizabeth Kidetok in Serere, and Wiggins SS in Kumi are already implementing the new curriculum after accessing soft copies and training.
Mr Robert Tibita, a teacher at Wampa Primary School in Namutumba Town Council, says they are using both the old and the new curriculum.

He adds that the abridged curriculum alone cannot work because it has challenges such as lack of reference books, making it “complicated” for learners to comprehend.
 “Learners are finding it hard coping with the new curriculum, especially those in lower classes. The new curriculum is only good for Primary Seven candidates, but not other classes,” he says.
 He advises that  the new curriculum only be taught in candidate classes.

 Mr Yusuf Mulumba, the head teacher of Modern Islamic Primary School in Namutumba Town Council, however, says the new curriculum favours all classes.
In the Kampala Metropolitan Area, at Simeka Junior School in Namirembe, Mr Timothy Mwesigwa, an administrator and teacher, says they started from where they stopped.

“Many of the pupils did not receive home study materials from the government and we found it important to take them through all what they missed,” he says
Mr Lawrence Muyanga, a teacher at Luzira Hill School, says they resolved to teach two syllabi, but putting more emphasis on science subjects.
At Nambi Vocational School, they are still challenged on how to integrate content from the previous class, and the school has not yet started teaching using the new curriculum.

Management at both Nakesero Secondary School and City High School say they are planning to hire education consultants to train teachers on the new curriculum.
In Obongi District, at least 30 percent of the schools are still stuck to the old curriculum. 
“The mode of acquiring the new curriculum is complicated since many head teachers here lack computer skills and  Internet,” Mr Johnson Mawadri, the head teacher of Obongi Primary School, who also doubles as the chairperson of head teachers association in Obongi District, says.

He says no training sessions have been conducted in the district about the new curriculum. Mr Mawadri adds that the district also lacks a printer to reproduce the new curriculum as the only printer they acquired jointly with Moyo District remained with the former when Obongi became an independent district.
“We are going to move as an association to all the schools and help them access the new curriculum, but my appeal is also for the schools to embrace the new curriculum,”  he says .
The Gulu District Education Officer, Mr Ceaser Akena,  says  when the new curriculum was released, they organised  training sessions for head teachers and classroom teachers on how to access  the new curriculum.

“Inspectors of schools also went to each school training how to use the new curriculum,” he says.
The State Minister for Higher Education, Mr John Chrysostom Muyingo, says schools that have not yet accessed the new curriculum would be given hard copies as soon as possible.
“A week ago, the executive director of the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) told me that she had received some money for printing some text books. These copies will reach schools that have failed to access the copies online. There is no need to panic,” he says.

Mr Godfrey Bangi ,the head teacher of Adjumani Secondary School and also the secretary of West Nile Head Teachers Association, says majority of the schools in the region are already implementing the new curriculum.
Mr Issa Matovu, an education expert, advised teachers to embrace the new curriculum since it addresses time lags created by the closure of schools due to Covid-19. 
He, however, urges NCDC  to expedite the process of printing hard copies for districts with limited access to the Internet. 
“School heads should be pro-active by using the available resources to download these materials from places that have the Internet the same way they do with Uneb exam registration,” he adds.

In Apac, most primary schools have been using the old curriculum during the first month of school reopening.
 However, public schools have shown willingness to begin teaching the new curriculum next week.
Mr Richard Thomas Owani, the head teacher of Wansolo Primary School, Apoi Sub-county in Apac, says he received the soft copy of the new curriculum yesterday. 
 “I am going back to school and will study it together with the teachers and we will begin using it,” he says.
 However, Amilo Primary School started teaching using the new curriculum during the second week of first term.

 “When the ministry introduced the abridged curriculum, I went to Kampala  and picked a copy and produced more copies and we studied it together with teachers and we are now teaching using the abridged curriculum,” the head teacher, Mr Bernard Opio, says
 Mr Stephen Ssemutono, the Rakai District education officer, says a good number of teachers in the district have been trained about the new curriculum. “These master trainers are expected to train their colleagues and we shall still continue giving them refresher courses and I am sure by the time learners sit for their exams, they will be fit to do so,”  he says.  
In Mpigi, most schools have adopted the new curriculum, but some teachers complain that most learners are taking long to comprehend it. 

“We are struggling with some learners, especially those who did  not  get a chance to study during the lockdown, but since we have reduced content in the new curriculum and  additional weeks this term, we will be able to get the best out of our learners,” Mr Dan Mugerwa, a  Primary Seven mathematics  teacher at St Kizito Primary School, Mpigi, says.
Ms Betty Najjuma, a retired primary teacher in Mpigi District, says with the abridged curriculum and added study time of three weeks, teachers will have more time to conduct remedial lessons for slow learners.
“Given the circumstances we are in, the abridged syllabus is timely. It indicates areas of concentration in various topics,” she says.  
 The head teacher of Nyabitabo Primary School in Kabale District, Mr Drake Kisheija, says they are implementing the new curriculum so well.
Mr Baker Tweyongyere, the head teacher of Muhanga Progressive School in Rukiga District, says the implementation of the new curriculum was a challenge in the first two weeks until the school administration hired private trainers. “We are currently implementing it with no challenges,” Mr Tweyongyere says.
In Yumbe District, Mr Ratibu Anule, the head teacher of Alaba Islamic Primary School, says the new curriculum is the best because it has integrated a lot of content.
“Some topics on Covid-19 have been included in some subjects and this will help the children to learn about the virus since it has come to stay,” he says.

  Mr Anule says much as the Ministry of Education has delayed to provide text books of the curriculum, they were able to print soft copies for the school.
  Mr Mohammed Angoliga, the head teacher of Barakala Primary School, says: “When the term had just opened, some of my teachers were using the old curriculum, but we later printed copies of the new curriculum and also bought some textbooks, especially literacy books which were missing at the school.”

 Ms Jane Clara Aserua, the deputy head teacher of Moyo Boys Primary School, says his teachers have not reported any challenges in regards to the new curriculum.
 Mr Stanley  Kiberu, the head teacher of Ndeeba SS in Kayunga District, says  they are teaching the new curriculum amid various challenges.
“We are trying to cope and we are having training internally,” Mr Kiberu says. He adds that  with time they will be able to effectively follow it.

 In Maracha District, Mr Bosco Apama, a teacher in Simbili Primary School, says: “When the term opened, copies of the abridged curriculum were not yet available at the school. However, we later liaised with friends and got soft copies which we immediately printed and also shared with neighbouring schools.”   
 The head teacher of Njeru Primary School in Buikwe District, Mr Farouk  Musuuba, says  teachers are still being trained on how to  use the  new curriculum.  “The advantage with  this abridged curriculum is that it combines the topics that have not been taught to the pupils for the two years  with the new ones, that is going to help the teachers cover the lost time  during the lockdown,” he says.
Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Ambrose Musasizi, Brian A Kesiime, Richard Kyanjo, Robert Muhereza, Simon Emwamu, Leonard Mbishinzimana, Philip Wafula, Ronald Seebe, Bill Oketch, Santo Ojok, Rajab Mukombozi, Karim Muyobo, Milton Bandiho, Ronald Kabanza, Fred Muzaale,Joseph Kiggundu, Marko Taibot, Andrew Mugati, Alex Ashaba, Felix Warom, Scovin Iceta, Robert Elema, Robert Atiku &Tobbias J Owiny