How new curriculum will affect S.3 students

Students of Bishop Cipriano Kihangire Secondary School, Luzira sit for their first paper of the Uganda Certificate of Education last year. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ms Ketty Lamaro, said a number of schools have continued to use the old curriculum, which uses a traditional knowledge-based approach.

The Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) will partially grade the current Senior Three students using marks attained through continuous assessment (class work) when they sit for the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams next year, Ministry of Education officials have said.

The learners are the first to use the new lower secondary school curriculum, which is competence-based.

According to the new curriculum, 20 percent of the final UCE results will come from the continuous assessment done by the schools from the time the learners join Senior Three, while 80 percent will come from the final exam itself. 

In an interview with the Monitor yesterday, the deputy director of research and consultancy at the Uganda National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), Mr Christopher Muganga, said whereas schools are required to submit all the marks of the learners since they joined Senior One in 2021, the 20 percent will come from the Senior Three syllabus.

“Uneb will give all schools across the country a portal this year where they will upload the marks attained by their students from the continuous assessments before they sit for Senior Four next year,” Mr Muganga said.

He added that Uneb will set the deadlines when all schools should submit the marks, which will then be computed by the Uneb statistician to get a final mark for each student.

Initially, learners have been working for 100 percent when they sit for the UCE exams.

Mr Muganga said the students will do a minimum of eight or a maximum of nine subjects, seven of which are compulsory.

With the old curriculum, learners were offering 10 subjects in Senior Three and Four.

The new curriculum allows students to study only 12 subjects in Senior One and Two, with 11 of these being compulsory and one elective.

The compulsory subjects are English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Education, Religious Education, Entrepreneurship and Kiswahili.

The optional subjects include Agriculture, ICT, Literature in English, Art and Design, Performing Arts, Technology and Design, Nutrition and Food Technology, and Foreign Languages (French, Latin, Arabic, and Chinese).

The Ministry of Education last year urged schools to embrace the new lower secondary curriculum.

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ms Ketty Lamaro, said a number of schools have continued to use the old curriculum, which uses a traditional knowledge-based approach.

“As part of the consequences, students in schools that fail to comply with this directive will miss the 20 percent marks assessment that contributes to the final grading by Uganda National Examination Board,” Ms Lamaro said.

NCDC is slated to train teachers on how to assess the projects of learners and how to upload these marks on the Uneb portal.

Meanwhile, the learners will also be assessed by the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) and will obtain a certificate in vocational studies at the end of the course.

This would enable them to complete Senior Four with a certificate to enable them to get employed should they fail UCE.

Mr Muganga said schools that are presenting their learners before DIT this year should have registered with the directorate, adding that those that did not register learners will miss out.

The Ministry of Education in 2020 rolled out the new lower secondary curriculum.

Schools are supposed to assess learners based on their competencies through activities of integration and projects which will be conducted in Senior Three.

Meanwhile, Senior Three learners undertaking the old curriculum who were asked to repeat the class will be required to start afresh from Senior One, because they have been studying using the old curriculum.

Continuous assessment system 

Under the new curriculum, teachers grade students on a scale of three, that is, one, two and three. All marks are out of a cumulative mark of 20 percent whose average at the end of Senior Four will be sent to Uneb as continuous assessment.

The national exams body will then add the 20 percent onto the 80 percent it will use for assessment in the final exams to make the total of 100 percent.

 “On the report, they will show you the scale of three, it means a child is outstanding; two is moderate, which means fairly good, the child has acquired most of the skills but has not excelled as the one who has three, between one and two, that is basic, the child has demonstrated basic performance,” Mr Swaib Musubire, a teacher in Wakiso District, said in an interview last year.

Mr Musibire also explained the units that are presented on the various report cards that make up the average score.

Mr Brian Mugisa, the deputy head teacher-in-charge of academics at Rubona Secondary School in Bunyangabu, added that all activities of integration are marked under the lowest denominator of 10. 

“The questions we set have competencies, when you set a question, there are certain things you want a child to bring out. If it’s one competence, it’s marked out of 10, if there are two it’s out of 19, if there are three it’s out of 28, for four it’s out of 37; like that,” Mr Mugisa said.

He added: “…if a student gets seven out of 10, initially that would be 70 percent but since now we are scaling them up to three, we shall divide seven by 10 and multiply by three, meaning the learner will get a score of 2.1.”