Schools defy govt on examining students

Students of St Mark Secondary School, Naminya in Mukono District, attend classes. Some secondary schools have chosen not to implement the new grading system and continued issuing ordinary report cards.  Photo/Tausi Nakato

What you need to know:

NCDC officials blamed this on the delay to train the teachers on how to use the new curriculum.

Some secondary schools have defied the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) on the issue of giving out regular examinations to lower class students in the revised syllabus and chose not to implement the new grading system, but continued issuing ordinary report cards.

One such school is Greenland College, a private secondary school in Namulesa, Jinja City, whose head teacher, Mr Denis Mpaulo, said he has instead made students sit for such examinations for “accountability purposes”.

 “You cannot convince parents paying fees that their children have performed well using the new grading system which they have not yet been sensitised about. Instead, we gave them [students] exams for accountability purposes,’’ he said.
He made the submission during the preparation of trainers of the new curriculum at Jinja College in Jinja City.
Mr Mpaulo said the government should sensitise all stakeholders, including parents, on the success of the implementation of the new curriculum, adding that even some teachers have not yet mastered the grading system, so they cannot do what they don’t understand.

The head of secondary curriculum at NCDC, Mr John Emorut Okumu, said most schools are “defiant” to the new curriculum because the training of teachers was affected by the Covid-induced lockdown that began in March 2020.
“As we rolled out the new curriculum and trained over 20,000 teachers, Covid-19 came, schools were closed for quite a long time and teachers adopted different things; and when schools were reopened, they [teachers] had forgotten all they had been taught and needed a lot of support,’’ he said.

Mr Okumu called upon everyone to embrace the new curriculum so that learners are trained to be able to fit well in 21st century demands.
The head of secondary curriculum at NCDC, Mr John Emorut Okumu, said most schools are “defiant” to the new curriculum because the training of teachers was affected by the Covid-induced lockdown that began in March 2020.
“As we rolled out the new curriculum and trained over 20,000 teachers, Covid-19 came, schools were closed for quite a long time and teachers adopted different things; and when schools were reopened, they [teachers] had forgotten all they had been taught and needed a lot of support,’’ he said.

Mr Okumu called upon everyone to embrace the new curriculum so that learners are trained to be able to fit well in 21st century demands.
Mr Joseph Jude Agaba, a curriculum specialist at NCDC, however, said: “I expected some schools to defy the directive because they were not well-educated about the new curriculum.”
“We have, therefore, embarked on training teachers about this curriculum so that they are enlightened about the new changes,” he said.
Adding: “While some schools have chosen to defy it, through such training we are going to equip them with more knowledge and once they are empowered, we are sure they will implement the new changes.’’

Despite Mr Mpaulo’s resentment, some of his colleagues like the head teacher of Bubutu Secondary School in Namisindwa District, Mr Paul Kimono, are happy with the scrapping of regular examinations.
“The abolished examinations will enable teachers to finish the syllabus in time because we have been wasting a lot of time giving out examinations. If there are mid-term [examinations], two weeks are wasted, four weeks have been taken up by exams and you spend less time teaching,” he said.
He added: “This is because you assess work you taught a long time ago, but in the new curriculum, you only assess what you teach now.’’

How it works
According to NCDC, teachers are expected to observe learners for any signs of acquired values, skills and change in attitude, and take record in addition to assessing knowledge, understanding and skills.
In the four years of assessment, teachers are also supposed to compile the total formative assessment scores for each individual learner, thereafter, the results will be submitted to the national examinations body, Uganda National Examinations Board [Uneb] for overall grading of the learner.

Teachers grade students on a continuum of 1, 2 and 3, with all marks being out of a cumulative mark of 20 percent; Uneb will then add the 20 percent to the remaining 80 percent, which will be used for assessment in the final exams out of 100 percent.

In the new competence-based curriculum, students study only 12 subjects in Senior One and Senior Two, with 11 of these being compulsory and one ‘elective’. The compulsory subjects include English Language, Mathematics, History, Geography, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Education, Religious Education and Kiswahili.
The elective [optional] subjects are categorised as ‘vocational’ or ‘practical electives’ and include Agriculture, Information and Communication Technology [ICT], Literature in English, Art and Design, and Performing Arts.

Others are Technology and Design, Nutrition and Food Technology, and any foreign language selected amongst French, Latin, Arabic, and Chinese.
However, as the learners advance to Senior Three, the compulsory subjects will reduce to seven and the candidates will exit after four years with a minimum of eight subjects and a maximum of nine.
Background
In 2020, the Ministry of Education and Sports, and the NCDC, introduced a new [lower secondary school] curriculum, which was a departure from the theoretical approach to skills-based learning.
Before the new curriculum was rolled out, the performance of learners was presented in percentages of between 0 and 100 for lower and upper limits, respectively. However, this has since changed to a competence-based approach.

The new curriculum phased out the beginning of term [BoT], weekly, monthly and end of term examinations, and laid ground for the students’ assessment to only be done at the end of year.
With the abolition of the aforementioned examinations, it was hoped that teachers will be able to study whether the students have acquired the requisite skills and knowledge.
 

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