Over 800 secondary school teachers who were undergoing a training on the proposed new curriculum from eight districts of Busoga Sub-region have demonstrated, saying the curriculum is 'highly lacking'.
The five-day training, which started on Sunday at Iganga Secondary School, attracted teachers from the districts of Bugiri, Namayingo, Mayuge, Luuka,Namutumba and Iganga.
However, on Wednesday morning, the teachers refused to enter the training hall, arguing that from the start of the training, they had failed to grasp the changes in the curriculum and accused the instructors of not being knowledgeable enough on the revised curriculum.
“The trainers seem not to have understood well what they are meant to teach us to go and implement because you cannot tell me that when you go to a class, every learner's contribution is correct,” one of the teachers said.
They said the curriculum was being rushed before they accused trainers of perusing through the content without giving them enough time to understand.
“The trainers are rushing yet the content is too much. When you ask them some questions, they get pissed off,” Mr Gerald Mwanda, another teacher said.
Drama ensued at Lango College in Lira Town on Monday when hundreds of secondary school teachers who had turned up for a training in the new lower secondary school curriculum were turned away.
Trouble started when more than 500 teachers, who had camped at the college, demanded to know how much money they would pocket after the six-day training exercise.
Each teacher, according to sources, was expected to receive Shs25,000 as daily allowance and an additional Shs25,000 as daily upkeep.
However, those who attempted to inquire about the money were forced to leave the venue.
“When teachers tried to inquire about their allowances, the organisers became rude and arrogant and chased them away. They said the teachers are money-minded,” a source who asked for anonymity in order to speak freely, said.
Another source told Daily Monitor that the training that was expected to benefit teachers from all government-aided secondary schools across Lango Sub-region, is now being attended by teachers from a few selected schools.
“We are here attending a workshop on new lower secondary curriculum but confusion has erupted over training allowances,” another source told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview. “There is total confusion and the training is not moving on well.”
He said each school was expected to send at least four participants for the training.
“Many people were turned away when the organisers started putting conditions that those who were not invited officially should leave. The whole exercise was to last six days but it has now been reduced to five days,” he added.
Mr John Charles Bua, the coordinator of the programme, said a lot of things that happened at the training venue could not be explained on phone.
“They will say I’m biased if I talk to you on phone. Come to Lango College and I will narrate to you everything,” he told this reporter when he was called for a comment on the matter.
The Ministry of Education and Sports has extended student holidays by one week for more than 20 government-aided schools, including Lango College currently being used to train teachers in the new curriculum. The curriculum takes effect this academic year.
The new curriculum
Emphasis. Under the curriculum, emphasis will be placed on competence-based learning, including the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes.
Subjects. The number of examinable subjects has been reduced from 43 to 21. Learners will be in class from 8.30am to 2.45pm, after which they will get time to study on their own.
Senior One and Two will have 11 compulsory subjects and nine electives. At Senior Three and Four, the compulsory subjects will reduce to seven. At this stage, learners will have a total of 14 electives that will be divided into three groups.
Approved subjects are English, Literature in English, Local and foreign languages, Kiswahili, Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Entrepreneurship, Performing Arts, Fine Art, Nutrition and Food Technology, Religious Education, Technology and Design, Computer Studies, Agriculture and Physical Education.
Do you remember what it felt like to join secondary school for the first time? The new school, uniform, subjects, teachers, friends, traditions and so much more.
And if like many others you were joining boarding school for the first time that too would take some getting used to, not forgetting the home sickness that plagued most of us. There is, oh so much to get accustomed to in a very short period of time.
In a few weeks, pupils who passed their 2019 Primary Leaving Exams will be joining secondary school. They too like many before them will go through that phase of newness. Secondary school level education has two stages.
The first four years of Senior One to Four make up the O-Level period which plays a role in laying a foundation for what one wants to be in future. This is why joining Senior One is such a big deal. It comes with a mix of excitement and anxiety for learners and even their parents.
The big move
As a primary school pupil, seeing secondary students in their uniforms made me look forward to the day I would join secondary school. I would imagine myself wearing a necktie, well-tucked in shirt and white socks. Little did I know that the uniform or dress code would be the least of my worries when the time came to join.
Graduating to secondary school entailed hard work, determination and having to cope with new schedules and subjects. I had more than 10 books in my locker which for someone who had had only four books just a year ago was overwhelming. The attitude with which the continuing students talked about some subjects and teachers made me hate them, before I even knew what they were really about.
Adjusting to a new curriculum
Stephen Mukasa, a teacher at BLK Muwonge Senior Secondary School, says the transition from the primary level of education to secondary is always a wide leap that comes with lots of changes and expectations.
Most of which is the adjustment to the new curriculum which has many more subjects one has to study compared to primary school. This usually overwhelms new students.
The secondary curriculum comprises of seven compulsory subjects. Among these is Chemistry, Biology Mathematics, Physics English, Geography and History. The rest of the subjects are an additional from the school administration.
“Joining Senior One is the time to redefine yourself and lay a firm foundation for the rest of your life. However, because students are still trying to fit into the new system of education, many tend to lose track,” Mukasa says.
Desire Nalubega, a former student of Gayaza High School, says unlike primary school, secondary schools requires more self-directed learning that is based on group discussions.
“By the time I joined Senior One in 2013, there were 16 subjects on the line-up, but the only way I managed to grasp most of them was through group discussions with friends,” Nalubega says.
Apart from having to deal with the many subjects, Nalubega also run out of books. She says every teacher who walked through the classroom door required a new book for their subject of instruction. By the end of the second week at school, she had no books left.
“I was not sure of the number of subjects there were so I carried 12 books. When they were used up, I had to make a phone call to my parents requesting for more. And at some point I was forced to use a book for two different subjects. One at the front and another at the back,” she recalls.
For Divine Nasolo, a Senior Four student at St. Joseph’s Senior Secondary School Naggalama, secondary school is goal-oriented. This calls for students that are self-driven.
She says unlike primary school where one is pushed and reminded by teachers to read, in secondary school, you simply follow the school rules and the rest is for you to decide.
For instance, you decide on when to go to the library for personal reading, with whom to hold discussions with, on which topic and at what time or you can decide to stay in the dormitory and spend your free time sleeping.
“To a certain extent, you are your own master and everyone, teachers included, assumes they are dealing with a grown-up who has a fair idea of what they want. Not grown up in terms of age but in the capacity that you know what is expected of you and what is good for your future,” she stresses.
As a secondary school student, you need to be a self-motivated learner who looks forward to new ways of improving their performance and acquiring more knowledge.
Trevor Ainembabazi, a Senior Three student at Lugazi College says, as a new student you will be persuaded by old students to join a number of school clubs. But you should not join every club because all you have is a four-year course that needs your concentration as well. He says that you will not want to be the kind of student who joins many club but accomplishes nothing.
Instead, think about what clubs are truly in line with your interests and passion. Those are the ones that you should join.
“In Senior One, I was confused as to which school club to join. I found most of the clubs interesting. Before I knew it, I was shifting from one club to another. At the beginning, I thought it was fun, but came to realize I was wasting a lot of time. Today I am a member of the writer’s club because that is where I finally discovered my true interest,” Ainembabazi says.
What are your expectations?
Joseph okedi, "I hope to a find an environment that will be suitable and friendly for learning. I expect my new teachers to help me to balance all the subjects I will be studying."
Liana Birungi, "I am looking at starting a new level of education in which I will have over 12 subjects to pursue. But this scares me because I do not how I will perform, but I will stay open minded and work hard."
Maria Clara Asiimwe, "Joining secondary means I am now grown and know what to do. The fact that I will be in a boarding school I have to take care of my property. I am planning to join the debate club."
Jerry Simon Mugisa, "One of my expectations is the fact that I will be taught more than four subjects. I also look forward to meeting new students from different schools."
Despite assurances from Education ministry, several head teachers say they are not prepared to roll out the revised lower secondary school curriculum.
The head teachers , who had converged in Kampala during the Senior One selection in Kampala on Thursday, said they are not aware of what the new curriculum entails.
Those Saturday Monitor talked to say they will only comply because it is a government policy.
The majority, who were uncomfortable to share their views on camera, said they lack the facilities and teachers to implement the new policy.
They also questioned the credibility of the continuous assessment and how it will be conducted since it is an accumulation of the students’ scores over the years.
Mr Alban Arindu, the head teacher of Owaffa Secondary School in Arua, said: “We are ready but the government has come with the programme late. Up to now, they have not yet trained our teachers. They have only called some teachers.”
The Kakira High School, deputy head teacher, Mr Moses Kirabe, said they were still waiting to attend workshops which the Ministry of Education said it was organising to take them through on the expectations of the new curriculum.
In some schools such as St Stephen Secondary School, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), picked some teachers for training last week. However, the schools said they have not yet received textbooks two weeks to the beginning of the new term.
“The curriculum presents optional subjects at entry level (Senior One). This will be tricky since the students are not well acquainted with the subjects in secondary to be able to choose what fits their desired careers or strengths. The curriculum still does not prioritise some of the subjects that are key in our locality, for example, Agriculture and ICT are optional subjects,” Mr Abubakhar Mwanja, the headmaster of Lukung Secondary School in Lamwo District, said.
Centres such as Nabisunsa Girls Secondary School where the training was conducted, were lucky to have all their teachers trained. This means they will have an advantage over the other schools in teaching the new curriculum.
But the State Minister for Primary Education, Ms Rosemary Seninde, said they are ready to implement the curriculum and asked the public not to be scared of the changes since they will be available to address any emerging issues in the course of the year.
“The government is committed to roll the curriculum out. As we progress, we will get the money. We must not think that things are going to be totally new. They are not too different. And it is not that teachers don’t know what they are going to do. It is how they are going to do it that we must take them through. Don’t worry much about the curriculum,” she said while addressing journalists during the Senior One selection.
Mr Sam Kuloba, the Ministry of Education commissioner for secondary education, said they have already secured another Shs10 billion to help them implement the new curriculum which he hopes will go through second term as they lobby for more money.
Ms Grace Baguma, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC ) executive director, has previously said they need Shs143 billion to efficiently roll out the curriculum in the next five years.
“We have done everything possible to make sure we roll it out. Another set of teachers have reported today for training. We expect others next week and training at district level will begin in the next two weeks. About 22,000 teachers are to be ready for this curriculum,” Mr Kuloba said.
Government has selected at least 1,600 secondary school teachers across the country to roll out the new lower secondary school curriculum next month.
The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) will on Monday train selected teachers on how to deliver the new curriculum.
The new curriculum will be rolled out when this year’s school calendar begins on February 3.
NCDC will be responsible for the training of trainers before they implement the new curriculum.
The teachers will then train their colleagues.
The trainers will then take through an estimated 50,000 other teachers working both in private and government-aided schools, who will be handling Senior One students.
Ms Grace Baguma, the NCDC executive director, declined to share how many teachers they are training to roll out the curriculum but acknowledged that they will start training the selected ones on Monday.
“Contact my bosses at the Ministry of Education. I can’t speak for them. I can’t give you a figure when we are still in planning stage. We are planning to train trainers who will help us train other teachers because we are very few and can’t reach everywhere,” Ms Baguma said yesterday.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, did not respond to this newspaper’s repeated calls and text message by press time, although sources close to NCDC told Daily Monitor that government will train 1,600 teachers.
Ms Baguma has told this newspaper previously that the new curriculum was created by getting rid of “obsolete knowledge and integrating related knowledge based on relevance, societal needs and national goals. This will go a long way in avoiding cramming of concepts which is the current practice.”
Other issues that have been integrated in the various subjects include HIV/Aids, climate change, gender, patriotism and human rights.
ICT is to be used both as a pedagogical tool for learning and also as a subject while special needs children will benefit from other learners through interaction and those whose abilities limit them to study science subjects will instead study general science.
Classroom teaching has been reduced to five hours a day with lessons starting at 8.30am and ending at 2.50pm. School will officially close at 4:30pm.
The students are encouraged to use the break time between 2:30pm and 4:30pm to participate in games and have a self-discovery through reflection on what they studied with support from their peers and teachers.
There will be two forms of assessment with the summative contributing 80 per cent of the students’ score and 20 per cent from the formative.
An earlier statement from NCDC shows that teachers will be expected to observe the learner for any signs of acquired values, skills and change in attitude and take record of this in addition to assessing knowledge, understanding and skills.
“All these will be considered by the teacher during the learning process and reflected at compilation of the total formative assessment scores. The marks will be captured throughout the four years averaged and computed into a score for each individual learner. Thereafter, the results will be submitted to Uganda National Examinations Board for the overall grading of the learner,” Ms Baguma said then.
Students interested in skills based subjects such as Nutrition and Food Technology, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, ICT, Technology and Design, Performing Arts, Art and Design and Physical Education will also be allowed to sit Directorate of Industrial Training examinations to allow them acquire a level 1 Uganda Vocational Qualification Framework competence certification for the world of work.
This will mean that such learners will exit Senior Four with two certificates.
Under the new curriculum, subjects have been reduced from 43 to 21. Schools will be expected to offer 11 compulsory subjects at S.1 and 2 in addition to one elective subject.
The students will then make a choice of seven compulsory subjects at Senior Three but must exit with a minimum of eight subjects and a maximum of nine if they are to be graded at Senior Four. Kiswahili, Physical Education and Entrepreneurship Education have been made compulsory for S.1 and 2 students.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has challenged the East African Community (EAC) heads of state to intervene in the icy relations between Uganda and Rwanda.
On Sunday, President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame held talks in Angola. President Museveni announced that he and Mr Kagame would meet again at Katuna border later this month to continue the efforts to end the bilateral impasse that has seen Rwanda close its border with Uganda since February last year.
The two heads of state were meeting in Angola for the second time at the invitation of the Angolan president Joao Lourenco.
Addressing journalists at the party offices in Najjanankumbi yesterday, FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, said the numerous meetings that have been conducted by the two presidents have not yielded anything positive.
“We are concerned with the escalating tension between Uganda and Rwanda. More worrying is the growing numbers of Ugandans being killed upon crossing into Rwanda and the government of Uganda continues to say that everything is okay,” Mr Ssemujju said.
“The closure of [the] border at Katuna has caused a lot of suffering on both sides. Rwanda is a big buyer of Irish potatoes from Uganda, hence the conflict is costing us a fortune,” he added.
FDC asked the EAC heads of state to intervene and bring the two presidents together to resolve the tension. The Opposition party questioned the relevance of the EAC because the two presidents have been going to Angola, a country which does not belong to the EAC bloc, to resolve the impasse.
“What is EAC for? Have they failed to sort out a conflict like this one? If Mr Museveni or Kagame has become a problem in the region, heads of the East African countries should point it out,” Mr Ssemujju said.
Efforts to get a comment from the EAC secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania about why the regional bloc has not intervened in the bilateral conflict were futile as they did not respond to our repeated calls and emails.
FDC on new curriculum
FDC also asked government to postpone the implementation of the new lower secondary school curriculum to allow adequate preparation. The new curriculum is meant to be rolled out this academic term amid growing worry by head teachers who say they do not know what to do.
Mr Ssemujju wondered why the implementation of the new curriculum is being rushed yet teachers were still undergoing training. He appreciated the new curriculum is rich and promises a positive shift from the traditional theoretical mode of education to practical education, but added that the Education ministry is not yet ready to implement it.
“We are not opposing this curriculum but we are saying, let it be postponed to next year,” Mr Ssemujju said.
“This curriculum has been rushed and experimenting it on our children is not allowed. You cannot tell me that you are rolling out the curriculum when the teachers slated to deliver it are still undergoing training. Why should the government rush things? ” he said.
In February 2019, Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda alleging that their nationals were being arrested and harassed by Ugandan security forces and that the Kampala government was supporting dissidents of the Kigali administration.
Uganda has since denied such allegations.
Ugandan exporters are eager to access their Rwandan and Burundian markets, while Rwandan markets have run out of stock of popular Ugandan products especially beverages and foodstuffs, cement and consumables.
The trainers, however, declined to speak to the press on the matter.
The teachers further stressed that as implementers, they were not consulted and faulted government for only allocating Shs30, 000 as facilitation and transport refund for the five days.
“As implementers, we were not consulted and have noticed a lot of anomalies. We ask government to take back the curriculum and first consult stakeholders,” said Mr Yakuti Tazaana.
“They said they will give each of us Shs30, 000 to cater for transport refund, upkeep and allowance; this is a mockery and is disrespectful to us,” one of the teachers shouted.
Police officers from Iganga rushed to the venue to avert any possible violence after the protestors started shouting and reciting songs, calling for the revision of the new curriculum.
Efforts by the Iganga Resident District Commissioner, Ms Eva Kwesiga to have the teachers resume with the training were futile.
“This is a government programme that you should embrace by whatever means because the new curriculum is going to eliminate irrelevancies and address issues of unemployment,” Ms Kwesiga said.
Mr David Ndaula, the Iganga District Police Commander, said whereas the teachers were free to express their grievances, they were not going to tolerate acts of violence.
“The venue is in a school and students are studying. We shall not allow them to disrupt the activities of the school,” Mr Ndaula told reporters.
By press time one teacher had been arrested for what police called 'inciting violence'.