New O-Level curriculum: What’s the teachers’ fate?

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By AMOS NGWOMOYA

Last week, government unveiled the new O-Level curriculum, where 23 subjects had been dropped or merged and only 20 approved.
Only seven subjects will be compulsory while a Senior Four candidate will be expected to take a maximum of 10 examinable subjects out of 13 taught in Senior One and Senior Two.

National Curriculum Development Centre’s (NCDC) decision is premised on the fact that learners must be taught subjects that are meant to develop competencies in technology, communication, analysis, synthesis, creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork.

According to the programme, NCDC intends to pilot the new curriculum next year and roll it out countrywide in 2020.
Last year Dan Odong, the executive secretary of Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb), wrote to both government-aided and private Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) centres that were still teaching some of the dropped subjects that Uneb would not examine them and that the schools should stop teaching them.

But dropping these subjects has raised debate with majority stakeholders questioning the effectiveness of overhauling the curriculum.
For instance, it remains unclear what awaits teachers who have been teaching the phased out subjects. Some learners are also up in arms over NCDC’s move, arguing that some of the dropped subjects are actually still relevant.
It still remains unclear what the fate of teachers, especially those on government payroll, and have been teaching the affected subjects will be.

No need to worry
In an interview with Daily Monitor, Alex Kakooza, the Education ministry permanent secretary, says no teacher will be affected by the new curriculum.
Kakooza says the dropped subjects have been merged with others hence teachers will still find what to do. “When teachers are being trained in institutions, they major in two subjects and this means that teachers can still be accommodated if one of the subjects is affected. I do not envisage any of the teachers losing their jobs,” he says.
For instance, teachers who have been teaching Accounts and Commerce, Kakooza says, will be retained to teach Entrepreneurship, which he says is also a business-related subject.

Samuel Bisando, a teacher of Commerce at Bukonzo Seed Secondary School in Bundibugyo District accuses NCDC of rushing to drop some subjects without wide consultations.
He acknowledges government’s plan to retain teachers of the dropped subjects but notes that it might take some time for some teachers to cope with the new changes. “We cannot just bury our heads in the sand and say all is well because the truth is that the new curriculum will affect some people. We only wait to see its effectiveness and I am sure after a few years, we shall be able to assess it,” he says.

Although Kakooza says some teachers will be retooled, Ismail Mubiru, a teacher, says not all of them can be retained especially those in private schools.
“If government gives an assurance that they will retain all those teachers who have been on payroll, how about those who have been teaching in private schools? Will these schools really allow to spend on training of teachers?” he asks.

Demoralise students
He says that some of the dropped subjects such as electronics could demoralise learners who intended to enroll for vocational training.

Esther Nassaka, a student at Mengo Senior Secondary School, welcomed the overhaul of the curriculum but she is disappointed that some of the practical subjects were dropped yet it’s the same government emphasising practical courses.
“Electronics and Technical Drawing are some of the practical subjects which shape the learner’s mind to appreciate vocational skills. It is sad government is dropping such subjects yet students had started appreciating vocational education,” she says.

With no clear fate of teachers of the affected subjects given, it remains unclear whether they will be retooled to take on new subjects or take on one of the surviving subject in their combination.

Dropped subjects
Type writing
Additional Mathematics
Power and Energy
Electricity and Electronics
Accounts
Commerce
Technical Drawing
Woodwork
Metal work
Political Education
Health Science
Home Economics
Textile and clothing
Office practice
Shorthand
Building and construction
Fasihi ya Kiswahili
Textile and Clothing
Tailoring

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