She explained that following consultations with cabinet, the ministry was guided not to halt the rollout of the new curriculum because it was too late to change plan. She also said it was cabinet’s view to continue discussing the curriculum with parliament until an agreement is reached.
“Honourable members, the current curriculum for lower secondary education has been in existence since colonial times. It is largely knowledge-based with little emphasis on skills and values and therefore, it is inadequate to address the issues faced by the learners of today and the social-economic needs of our country,” she said.
Janet told MPs that an effective curriculum is supposed to prepare the learner to be a global citizen, useful in both his or her community and globally. She also revealed that they made adequate consultations on the new curriculum between 2016 and 2018 and earlier.
She named some of those consulted as President Yoweri Museveni, MPs on the committee of Education, regional chairpersons of secondary schools, Headteachers’ Association (ASSHU), vice-chancellors from both public and private universities, members of the Vice Chancellors Forum, representatives from the national teachers’ colleges, deans of the schools for education from both public and private universities, some parents and learners, representatives of religious institutions and representatives of cultural leaders among others.
She said that the revised lower secondary curriculum will promote effective learning and acquisition of skills, reduce subject and content overload and address the needs of all students.
"The reviewed curriculum has embraced inclusive education by providing for the different categories of learners’ needs in the curriculum. For instance, the learners with visual impairment will study general science which doesn’t have component of practical aspect with physics, chemistry, and biology to enable all learners to learn scientific concepts for living a balanced lifestyle," she said.
Her statement didn’t go well with mainly opposition legislators. Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda took to the floor, saying parliament had demanded a statement on why the minister defied its resolution and not a statement briefing them on steps taken to defy the parliamentary resolution.
Ssemujju argued that the minister’s statement was not provided for under the Rules of Procedure. He said that the content presented by the minister had earlier been provided by the state minister for Primary Education, Rosemary Sseninde.
However, the speaker requested that the statement be received as is. Kadaga insisted amid applause from the ruling government side that the minister’s statement had responded to issues earlier raised by parliament.
The shadow attorney general, Wilfred Niwagaba said that the earlier decision of parliament to halt the implementation of the curriculum had not been addressed by the minister’s statement.
He suggested that the statement by the minister be expunged from the record of parliament since its details had earlier been provided and that parliament’s directive was on a statement giving reasons why its resolution was not respected.
Kadaga insisted that Janet's statement had majorly answered all the raised queries raised on February 4 and that the curriculum was now cleared to be rolled out. Shadow Education minister, Mathias Mpuuga said the statement gives highlights of some of the issues raised by parliament but falls short of details why parliament decided to halt its rollout.
"You see, these controversies return again because the minister did not do the honorary thing we expected out of her because when you make this matter controversial then regurgitate the same debate we had on the floor on 4th [February], cabinet as a policy-making organ and parliament are not in competition that when we make a decision here, cabinet must veto it and go ahead and do what it wants. We’re not competing, our roles are complementary. The statement by the minister of page two is an attempt to say, yes we heard you but you see we had it our way." Mpuuga said.
Erute South MP, Jonathan Odur also wondered what would happen to an earlier resolution of parliament to halt the curriculum, saying the statement by the minister doesn’t respond to it. Kadaga then said that it was true parliament made a resolution but she hastened to add that before that resolution, issues had been raised by the MPs and that these have been answered by the Minister’s statement.
"Madam speaker the statement by the minister of Education and sports presented is a statement that reflects our Rule 50 and for me, I don’t have any problem with it because it is a ministerial statement. But what we’re also waiting for…is that this house took a decision which should be reported by the ministry under Rule 217 which has not yet come and the house proposed that before the minister of Education comes here for any other matter that minister," said Odur.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said since parliament had expressed concern over the readiness of government to roll out the curriculum and Janet had convinced Cabinet about the readiness and availability of resources to start, there is no reason why the curriculum shouldn't be rolled.