Bioscientists task NCDC to review biology syllabus

Some of the biology teachers and bioscientists from Makerere School of Natural Sciences during a meeting at Makerere University yesterday. PHOTO | SYLIVIA KATUSHABE

What you need to know:

  • Prof Arthur Tugume, the dean of Biosciences at Makerere University,  said the secondary biology syllabus is wide and could be the lead cause of the poor performance of the subject over the years.

Bioscientists yesterday tagged persistent poor performance of candidates in the Biology subject to a complex secondary curriculum and inadequate attention to the challenges schools are grappling with.

Prof Arthur Tugume, the dean of Biosciences at Makerere University,  said the secondary biology syllabus is wide and could be the lead cause of the poor performance of the subject over the years.

He explained that unlike other subjects where topics are outlined according to different papers and students can read certain topics for a specific paper, it is a different case with Biology.

The bioscientists want the topics in Biology outlined according to papers just like it is in other subjects.

“We can say in Paper One, we can have topics 1,2,2,3,5 and when students are going to Paper One examination, the candidate can revise those topics and Paper Two can also have different topics,” Prof Tugume said.

He made the remarks during a meeting of Biology teachers and bioscientists at Makerere School of Biosciences yesterday.

Prof Tugume further revealed that they have formed an association called the Biology Society of Uganda aimed at improving the performance of Biology.

The association will engage the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to consider their proposal.

“We are in talks with NCDC so that they will [consider our input] and implement it,” he said.

In the 2022 UACE results, the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) noted poor performance in Biology, indicating that the subject was the worst-performed compared with other science subjects.

According to the results, only 0.1 percent (about 18 candidates) scored grade A in Biology while 32.6 percent (5866 learners) failed the subject.

Prof Tugume noted that the Biology society will also be organising refresher training for teachers and engaging the public in addition to organising biology contests for learners and awarding the winners.

“We want to open the mindset of students that when they study Biology, there are many things they can do. It is not only about becoming a pharmacist or a doctor,”  he said.

The principal of the College of Natural Sciences, Prof Winston Tumps, said the Biology society will bring together all bioscientists to promote the subject and look for funding proposals to support schools.

“We have experts who can help you [teachers], even in retooling, if you have any topic that you didn’t appreciate very well when you were studying, we can also help you. We have very good labs here, if you plan very well with the heads of departments, I think they can give you access,” Prof Tumps said.

He urged schools to always support each other to better grades.

“Through Biology society, we can also share equipment because when you go to some of these schools upcountry, you find one school is well stocked with lab equipment and the neighbour doesn’t have any,” he wondered.

Time factor

Mr Fred Twinamasiko, a Biology teacher at St Mary’s College Rushoroza in Kabale District, said the syllabus is wide and requires sufficient time to have students master the subject.

“Once the students are preparing for Paper One, they really know they are dealing with certain topics and this will give them more concentration,” he said.

Mr Twinamasiko also observed that some learners fear the subject.

Ms Marion Muwonge, the Biology head of department at Namakwa Senior Secondry School in Mukono District, said her school lacks enough equipment.

“The school has only two textbooks for over 140 Senior Three learners, which is not enough for Biology being a wide subject,’’ he said.