The ongoing school closures in respect to the covid-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for the ministry of education and sports to re-harmonize the then ‘rushed’ new Lower secondary curriculum.
At the beginning of the year, the ministry of education through the National Curriculum Development Centre commenced the implementation of a new competence-based secondary curriculum despite the strong resistance from legislators, teachers, and education analysts.
During the rollout of the curriculum, the NCDC hardly carried out training of selected subject teachers but many who participated in the training complained that there was limited time to the new concepts that were being introduced.
The implementation phase in the short-lived term one had been affected by the lack of instructional materials, reduced time schedules, and the shortage of teachers.
Now, Grace Baguma, NCDC director, notes that during the lockdown, they have been able to revisit the roadmap and addressed key areas that had been left hanging by the time of rolling out.
According to Baguma, during the eight months’ time, they have considered retooling of master trainers who have also started conducting micro training to in-service senior one and senior two teachers. According to her the training has been designed and slated to start with poorly performing regions.
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Baguma also notes they are also taking part in the development and evaluation of textbooks and other instructional materials for senior one. According to her, the activity is still underway being conducted in Mbale district.
Baguma also adds that working together with the Uganda National Examination Board, have started developing the formative assessment framework that will guide teachers on how to award marks.
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This is one of the critical boxes that had not been ticked in the first place since the framework will guide to regularly assessment different competencies during the entire teaching-learning process which scores would be regularly handed over to Uganda National Examinations Board to contribute 20 percent of the student‘s overall score at the end of learning cycle.
As part of the summative assessment, students will be given identification numbers assigned to students by the ministry of education to enable UNEB to follow up with the academic progress of learners on an annual basis. Teachers will upload learner’s marks on a system that will be accessible to UNEB.
“In our early plans, we thought that this data would be computed on a termly basis. However, with the ongoing engagements with UNEB, we have decided to carry these assessments annually. having them done termly might create confusion. This means in each class, a learner will be looking for about five percent of the total marks,” Baguma explained.
The ministry has also used the lockdown to engage pre-service teachers. (teachers in training) and several teacher training institutions and universities on how they can incorporate accepts and methodology requirements of the new curriculum in their programmes. At first, the said group were observers yet they are the ones producing teachers.
In the same development, Alex Kakooza, the permanent secretary at the education ministry also points they currently supporting other implementation agencies including the special needs and guide and counseling units and the directorate of industrial training to set up what they require to play their role.
The new curriculum comprises of among other things, conducting student-centered teaching, performing extensive practical and Information Communication Technology-ICT based lessons, a new teaching approach that aims at producing highly innovative and self-reliant students.
The curriculum also has a vocational and skills component looking at Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, ICT, Performing Arts, Art and Design, Physical Education, and Food and Nutrition among others.
On completion of the education level, a learner will get out with two certificates; the Uganda Certificate of Education and level one competency certificate from Uganda Vocational Qualification Framework –UVQF. For both certificates, the learner will have a chance of progressing to the next level of education.