The two-weeks-long bitter standoff between parliament and the ministry of Education ended dramatically last Thursday when First Lady and line minister Janet Museveni showed up in the House to address the MPs’ uproar over the recently rolled-out revised ordinary level curriculum.
MPs triggered the standoff when they nudged Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to halt the implementation of the curriculum until Ms Museveni herself addressed their concerns.
The first lady was expected to appear before the House last Tuesday but she skipped the plenary session, triggering an angry backlash from MPs and Kadaga. She, however, showed up a day later and offered her apologies.
“Please allow me to begin by informing this house that on Tuesday, February 18, we were not able to be here because we already had information from the Clerk to Parliament that we were to be here today, Thursday, the 20th of February,” Ms Museveni said, adding: “Therefore, we were confident that there was no problem until we learnt later that our presentation was on the order paper for Tuesday. However, Hon [Rosemary] Seninde was in Parliament that day, so I believe she explained the mix-up which was not intended. We regret any inconveniences.” Ms Museveni said the ministry could not stop the rollout as ordered by parliament without a cabinet decision.
“We, therefore, had to consult Cabinet first, and we were guided not to halt the rollout because it was too late to change the plan…” she said.
The minister then gave the background to the curriculum review process, the objectives, new aspects, the justification, implementation strategy and its benefits.
Ms Museveni also responded to questions raised in her absence by MPs on February 4. Yudaya Nangonzi strung together an abridged version of the minister’s response.
Is this a curriculum review or reform?
This is a review, and not a total reform/overhaul because the subject-based approach has been maintained. The subjects and content have remained the same.
Changes have been made to exclude obsolete content and to include contemporary knowledge and use of ICT in the teaching and learning process. The major changes are in the methodology to make the teaching learner-centered and assessment to include formative and the world of work.
Are you ready for the program or not? The ministry is excited about this new learning approach. We are learning every day and leading this new curriculum rollout to breathe new life into schools and make learning authentic.
You need to begin with Early Childhood Development (ECD) at the grassroots before implementing this.
The review of curricula at all levels was supported by the government White Paper (1992).The review started with the design of the ECD learning framework in 2005.
In the same year, the ministry embarked on the review of the primary curriculum (thematic for P1 -P3 and Competence Based Curriculum for P4-P7). The implementation of this curriculum, which is currently in operation started in 2007 with P1 (Thematic) and the first examination was conducted in 2013.
Primary one actually doesn’t have cumulative assessment; so, why start with secondary education?
At primary level, continuous assessment was introduced during the review of the curriculum in 2005 to cater for the cumulative assessment. Learners in schools, which follow the ministry guidelines, carry out continuous assessment.
Teachers and head teachers were trained to record progress of their learners using key competences clearly set out in the Teacher’s guide to the curriculum. Schools are expected to use these records to report on the performance of the learner, weekly, monthly and termly.
There are structures under the Core Primary Teachers Colleges through the Coordinating Centre Tutors to support schools facing difficulties in assessing and keeping records of their learners. It is the same practice the ministry has implemented at secondary level for continuity but this is referred to as formative assessment.
The ministry needs to know what the learners want. Stakeholders are unaware of what’s going on.
A needs assessment was carried out by the1987-89 Education Review Commission, which led to the 1989 policy review commission. That birthed the Government White Paper of 1992 that recommended the review of curriculum at all levels of education. NCDC conducted a labour market survey in 2012 to inform the curriculum development.
This guided the centre on the kind of generic skills needed in the labour market and these have been integrated across subjects. The ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) in 2007 conducted a study and a report titled; Uganda Secondary Education and Training Curriculum, Assessment and Examination was developed. This report informed the curriculum review.
The ministry needs ample time to plan for materials. Those distributed were inadequate.
Materials expected in schools include the curriculum framework, syllabuses, textbooks and Teachers’ Guides. The curriculum framework and syllabuses have been distributed to all schools both private and government and the prototypes and teachers’ guides for all subjects are currently being distributed to schools in both soft and hard copies.
The procurement of the new textbooks under the MoES is in the final stages. These have been developed based on the textbook specifications and exemplar prototypes provided by NCDC.
The same prototypes were used to train teachers and the exemplar prototype textbooks developed by NCDC will be used by schools to teach S1 content as we finalise the procurement and distribution of textbooks from publishers by July 2020. Teachers are also supposed to make lesson plans using a variety of other resources.
You are saying it’s going to be student-centered learning, so where are the computer centers for research?
Student-centered learning does not necessarily mean use of computers. Learner-centeredness implies the learner is part of the process of knowledge creation.
The teacher facilitates that process. This helps the learner to be a critical thinker, innovative and creative. Research can be carried out by conducting field work and using the library. Learners can read about something, discuss it and use the knowledge gained to solve a societal problem. The revised curriculum is promoting the use of ICT as a pedagogical tool.
The ministry needs more time to train teachers. Training S.1 teachers isn’t enough.
Teacher training has taken a phased approach – using a cascade model starting with: 21 lead trainers, 90 national facilitators, 1,600 master trainers and 20,000 subject teachers.
In a curriculum review process, training of teachers is a continuous process referred to as; refresher training for teachers, Continuous Professional Development (CPDs) or support supervision where teachers are coached and mentored. This method of building support for teachers offers a good start for continuous support during the implementation process.
MoES has started with S1 teachers (one from each broad specialization of; Sciences, Humanities, Vocational, Languages and the Director of Studies) because the rollout starts with S1 learners. Since the rollout is phased in approach, there will be continuous training at school level.
Why is Agriculture not a compulsory subject yet agriculture is the backbone of the country?
The basic concepts of Agriculture are sufficiently covered at this level through other subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Geography.
At primary level, learners are exposed to concepts of agriculture in Integrated Science. Development in the world today is steered by knowledge economies with forecasts of the job market being in the area of technology and innovation.
We are in the 4th Industrial Revolution era and with time, the job market will be skewed more towards technology-related disciplines. Nonetheless, O-level is basic education where learners receive basic concepts. On the other hand, government has, in its structure, a career progression/path for agriculture under Farm schools, Agriculture institutes and vocational institutes where learners who wish to specialize in agriculture as a vocation can enroll.
Not all upcountry secondary school teachers were able to attend the trainings because they did not receive information about the training.
The communication to teachers was channeled through their head teachers using the head teachers’ association (ASSHU) and the Science and Mathematics programme coordinators (SESEMAT).
All schools, government and private, were required to send four to five teachers irrespective of the geographical location. Nonetheless, the ministry plans to train all teachers in a phased approach.
Picking four teachers per school, training them for three days, and then expecting them to train other teachers is impractical. Of the 14 subjects, only four are picked. How much time has been allocated to the four inadequately trained teachers to train other teachers of the 14 subjects?
The training took five days, not three. This training was to expose teachers to the methods of teaching a learner-centered curriculum and how to embed generic skills, values, and cross-cutting issues in the learning activities. Teachers were also exposed to methods of formative assessment. Most of the concepts across subjects remained unchanged.
Every teacher graduates with two teaching subjects, therefore; the four or five teachers meant that teachers for eight or 10 subjects were trained. The sustainable plan as we roll out the revised curriculum is to have more school-based training than the big national trainings. The training focused on a teacher from each broader area such as sciences, vocational, languages and humanities.
The Director of Studies was also trained. These teachers are expected to train other teachers in their respective areas at school level. Indeed, a number of schools have already engaged the master trainers to support their school-based training. The four or five teachers were identified by their head teachers during their annual conference in Arua in September 2019.
They were asked to identify teachers who would be competent enough to learn and be able to train other teachers and stakeholders like parents and learners in their schools.
As part of the Secondary Teacher Development Management System programme (STDMS) under the ministry of Education, there are plans to set up 73 centres in addition to the already existing 27, which have been used for the current training, to help support schools (through CPDs) during the implementation of the revised curriculum.
In addition to teachers who have been trained, the team of Master trainers totaling 1,600 – majority of whom were teachers – were trained by NCDC in January 2020 in three centres namely; Kololo SS, Nabisunsa Girls school and Seeta High Mbalala campus. These Master trainers have been part of the teams, which have been training their fellow teachers in the 27 training centres all over the country, during these five days.
The training has been marred by corruption. Teachers were promised a daily allowance of Shs 25,000 but got Shs 30,000 in total.
A written communication and the breakdown of the budget for stationery, meals and transport refund were sent to host head teachers (schools) and SESEMAT leaders.
On the first day of training, participants were told they would get a transport refund of Shs 30,000. Training is skills acquisition and government did not plan to pay teachers for gaining knowledge and skills enhancement. The other costs in respect of accommodation and meals were to be catered for by the host school in kind.
Who are the stakeholders involved in this reform and where is the evidence to support your claim that you interacted with MPs?
Consultations have been ongoing since the ministry embarked on the reform of the curriculum. Key stakeholders like the Parliamentary Committee on Education were consulted in 2016 and 2017.
They also came to the NCDC on August 29, 2018 to give their views on the proposed curriculum and implementation plans. NCDC presented the plan of piloting the curriculum in 20 schools. The advice from honorable members was that since the design of the curriculum had reverted to subjects from the earlier design of learning areas, then there was no need to stretch the already thin budget on piloting.
This advice was presented to the Curriculum Task Force of the MoES and after lengthy deliberations, the ministry appreciated the MPs’ advice.
The ministry decided to roll out the curriculum countrywide instead of piloting it in 20 schools. The other stakeholders consulted were: His Excellency the President in April 2018, vice chancellors from both private and government aided universities in December 2017, Vice chancellors Forum in 2016, Uganda Secondary Schools Head Teachers’ Association (ASSHU), Deans of schools for Education from both private and government-aided universities and representatives from the National Teachers’ Colleges in January 2018, Parents in 2019, representatives of Religious Institutions in 2012, and representatives of the Geography and History Associations in 2015.
Prior to the above, a labour market survey with employers was conducted in 2012 to get their views on the required skills for the world of work. The outcome from these consultations is what guided on the number of subjects on the curriculum menu, the renaming and re-organization of some subjects, the number of compulsory subjects at senior 1 and 2, and senior 3 and 4.
What are the assessment tools used or to be used for the learner?
Assessment in the revised curriculum is to change from one which has no clearly defined and documented standards (Norm-referenced) to one which focuses on pre-determined and clearly defined standards (criterion referenced).
Formative also known as classroom-based assessment is critical in the reviewed curriculum because it is going to be used to track the performance of the learner right from S1 to the end of the cycle. Each leaner will have a Student Identification Number (SIN) which will be captured on the learner record card.
The learner’s achievements will be captured on the record card for all terms. This will be averaged and submitted to Uneb for use at the end of the cycle and will contribute 20 per cent of the total score. The end-of-term report on achievements gained by the learner in a summative way will be provided as is the case now.
For the pre-vocational subjects, the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) under the Ministry of Education will also assess the learners on specified competences from the syllabus and give them a workplace certificate. The learners will be assessed in S3 and then sit the UNEB examinations in S4.
There is no need for physical education to be compulsory because we lack very many things to implement a proper physical education programme.
Physical exercise is a vital part of the learning process. I would like to share the Finland example. Finish children spend far more time playing outside even in the depth of the winter and secondly; homework is minimal yet Finland is one of the leading countries in education globally.
What are the benefits of studying from 8 am to 3 pm?
This is an effort to get pupils to practice what they have learnt in theory even if it means discussing it in groups outside the class. This brings more understanding.
How many students will a teacher be in charge of during the after-class periods from 3 pm…?
It is expected that a class has an average of 50 to 60 learners and depending on the approach used by the teacher, learners will have tasks, projects, innovations and activities to do during the after 2:55 pm period.
The teacher is expected to supervise. Every teacher will be required to supervise after class activities to ensure that learners are actually learning through research, group work, group discussions, co-curricular, and project work. There is also a guideline on how to manage the period after 2:55 pm. But once leaners have been trained to be responsible citizens through guidance and counseling programs, the teachers’ roles will be simplified.
Are we going to provide market for other countries to teach the new language on board, Swahili?
Uganda has enough teachers of Kiswahili. The 1992 government White Paper recommended teaching of Kiswahili and since then and earlier; universities and National Teacher’s Colleges have been training teachers of Kiswahili. The trained Kiswahili teachers can service the approximately 5,000 secondary schools.
What are the assessment measures in case a learner changes a school during the years of study, how are the cumulative results assessed and stored?
Achievement records are kept either in soft or hard copy at school. Each learner will have a number, which will be captured on one’s record card. The learner achievement will be captured on this card for all terms. In case a learner changes school, his or her score will be already reflected on the record card at Uneb using his or her SIN. The child is also expected to transfer with her record card from one school to another.