Ugandan Schools struggle to roll out new syllabus

The new curriculum is looking at creating fewer job seekers. PHOTO | INTERNET.

What you need to know:

  • In Adjumani District, the head teacher of St James Secondary school, Ms Topista Mesiku, says they have inadequate learning materials.
  • In Bugiri District, there are concerns that the introduction of new curriculum by the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) may lead to closure of some schools, especially privately-owned schools.

Both government-aided and private schools across the country are struggling with implementation of the new lower secondary curriculum.

While some schools lack education materials others are grappling with limited trained staff.

The new curriculum, which was launched in January 2020, aims at improving the quality and relevance of secondary education and also ensures that post-primary learners are skilled in the workforce.

In Adjumani District, the head teacher of St James Secondary school, Ms Topista Mesiku, says they have inadequate learning materials.

She says although the new curriculum is good, the school lacks books for teaching some of the core subjects.

“We only have books for three subjects such as Entrepreneurship, Literature, and Kiswahili for Senior Three class, and yet the books that are not available, cannot be found in the bookshops around here,”  Ms Mesiku says.  

She adds that they also have untrained teachers, who are unable to implement the curriculum..

Ms Roselyn Achia, the deputy head teacher of Mungula Secondary School, says they lack access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) materials since they are a rural school.

“We have few computers, no data for internet and electricity. Apart from the ICT materials, the books are not available, especially for the Senior Three class,” Ms Achia says.

Mr Micheal Mali, the Moyo District Education Officer, says: “There are no teachers posted to teach Chinese language in some schools and others like Metu, Moyo and Lefori seed secondary schools face challenges in ICT subjects because some of the computers were stolen.”

In Bugiri District, there are concerns that the introduction of new curriculum by the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) may lead to closure of some schools, especially privately-owned schools.

According to Mr Henry Kabulo, the district education officer, many teachers in both government and private schools did not receive enough training.

Mr Joshua Wafula, the director of studies at Bukooli College in Bugiri District, says many teachers are gambling to implement the programme.

He, however, says the programme is good but was poorly-planned and needs to be revised.

“There is also shortage of funds and the government has instructed us not to collect money from parents,” he says.

Proscovia Biryeri and Felix Mulondo, both Senior Three students of Namasere High school in Bugiri District, says the new curriculum is good because it will make them job creators.

Mr Paul Butono, the deputy head teacher of Busoga College Mwiri in Jinja District, says they are still struggling to get textbooks to implement the new curriculum.

“We are currently depending on the syllabus books and sometimes, we get materials from the internet,” he says.

The deputy head teacher of Jinja Secondary School, Mr William Ongom Olara, says they have limited funds to ensure smooth operations.

“Teachers have all mastered the new curriculum but we face a challenge of limited resources to facilitate teaching,” he says.

The head teacher of MM College Wairaka in Jinja, Ms Hilda Namutosi, says the new curriculum has failed to be implemented in up-country schools.

“Before the new curriculum was introduced, stakeholders, especially parents up to today, were not consulted, worsened by lack of training materials for teachers,” she says.

In Kisoro, the chairperson of the district secondary school teacher association, Mr Dan Nuwe, says retooling classroom teachers and textbooks are their main challenges.

“We are implementing the new curriculum using the innovation of the teachers because most of them were not skilled in teaching of the new curriculum,” Mr Nuwe says.

The head teacher of Bubare Secondary School in Rubanda District, Mr Amos Ahimbisibwe, says although they have received several teaching materials for the implementation of the new curriculum, there is need to skill all the teachers for the proper implementation of the programme.

In Mbale, Mr Paul Munialo, the headteacher of Mbale Progressive Boarding School, says the new curriculum is going on well, although there are challenges when it comes to practicals.

“Materials are not enough when you look at books for Senior Three and sometimes we have to buy them, which is very expensive,” he says.

He says also decried the lack of facilities to carry out practicals such as gardening.

Mr Samuel Hissa, the head teacher of St Mary’s High School, Busamaga in Mbale City, says at first, it was challenging for the teachers but they later received training.

Ms Joyce Mary Atima, the head teacher of Community SS in Soroti City, says they are still struggling to adopt to the new curriculum due to the shortage of teaching materials.

She says some manuals such as physics manuals, which are not in circulation.

“We are trying our best to adapt to the new curriculum and every afternoon at 2pm, we hold hands on practical lessons but the problem is the absence of some manuals,” Ms Atima says.

Mr Julius Opaso, the headteacher of Teso College Aloet (TCA), says they are still waiting for government to supply new curriculum books which were missing during the delivery of the first butch.

“We will implement the programme to the dot and so far two of his teachers have been taken to Kampala for the development of the new curriculum for A-Level classes which is expected to be functionalised in 2025,” he says.

In Isingiro, Mr Julius Begumanya, head teacher of Kigaragara Secondary School, says instructional materials are not enough and others are not available in bookshops.

“The pioneers, currently have no resourceful books yet they are prepared to sit for exams. Teachers were not taken through induction; it was just workshops but only for a few teachers,” he says.

He says they were directed to register all Senior Three learners to do Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) exams in November but unfortunately the programme has been halted.

“The private schools even paid Shs80,000 for each student but we received a circular from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education halting this programme. We are just confused with this new curriculum,” he says.

Ms Grace Ndagire Tweheyo, the head teacher of Kinoni Girls High School, in Rwampara District, says they lack money to implement practical projects.

“The new curriculum has projects and projects need funding but schools are working under constrained resources,” he says.

Mr Jameson Bindeba, the headteacher of Ruborogota Seed School Secondary School, says the teachers had already started training students with skills such as baking.

“For us we are not stuck with the new curriculum, we are doing well with it, we received all the materials to help us execute the curriculum,” he says.    

Mr Ham Ahimbisibwe, the head teacher of Mbarara High School, says the only challenge is the recent decision to halt the DIT assessment programme.

“Apart from halting assessment of DIT, we are moving on well with the curriculum and we are just waiting when it will be rescheduled,” he says.

Mr Tumwebaze Godfrey, the head teacher of Nyakayojo Secondary School in Mbarara City, says some teachers are not familiar with the new system.

“They are used to the old styles of teaching, so making adjustments is becoming a problem. This new system needs serious reading, research and revision,” he says.

About the curriculum
The new Lower Secondary Curriculum was rolled out in a phased-out approach starting in February 2020 with Senior One.

The curriculum was to be rolled out to Senior Two in 2021 and to the next levels of the lower secondary in the preceding years.

However, the outbreak of Covid 19 and the subsequent closure of schools delayed the progress of implementation.

In 2022, the pioneers of the New curriculum were in Senior Two instead of Senior Three. 

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

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. 

Old curriculum. 
The old curriculum focused on academic achievement and promotion to the next class, which left out many learners. Examinations and the grading system did not cater for a wide range of abilities and many learners did more of cram work.

Compiled by Fred Wambede, Philip Wafula, Denis Edema, Asuman Musobya, Scovin Iceta  Marko Taibot, Olivier Mukaaya, Tausi Nakato,Abubaker Kirunda, Rajab Mukombozi, Julius Byamukama, Coslin Nakayiira & Felix Ainebyoona, George Muron, Robert Muhereza, Julius Hafasha.