EDUCATION

Amended Curriculum: Content covered in primary scrapped from O-Level

Getting children back into school and learning is a priority for all three partners and this support comes at a critical time to support Uganda in its recovery.

Under the abridged curriculum, some repeated topics have been scrapped, others merged with teachers required to focus on selected competencies. Many topics in subjects like mathematics have been omitted. For instance, learners in S.2 will not study number bases, integers, geometry and construction, inequalities and regions, bearing, set theory, and algebra.

Learners in S.2, S.3, and S.4 will not study any topics or content that they covered in previous classes and primary according to the abridged curriculum released by the National Curriculum Development Centre.

The training manual of the abridged curriculum seen by our reporters shows that the condensed curriculum for secondary schools that provides an opportunity for learners to catch up and transition back into the learning process will affect S.2, S.3, S.4, and S.6 while learners in S.1 and S.5 will use the normal curricula.

Under the abridged curriculum, some repeated topics have been scrapped, others merged with teachers required to focus on selected competencies. Many topics in subjects like mathematics have been omitted.

For instance, learners in S.2 will not study number bases, integers, geometry and construction, inequalities and regions, bearing, set theory, and algebra. “This content has been learned in primary, in secondary it is taken as revision,” noted NCDC in their manual to justify the move.

However, the agency notes that teachers might need to do some recap on the scrapped topics. For learners in Senior three, topics like mapping and relations, numerical concepts, business arithmetic, ratios, and proportions will not be taught because they were either covered at primary level or in S.1.

In chemistry, most content has been merged on the ground that their concepts are similar or related. For example, in S.2; chemical families, periodic timetables, and descriptions of properties of elements have been merged. Some concepts in practicals carried out in Senior Three like laboratory preparation of nitrogen, Sulphur, and hydrogen sulphide have been scrapped because they are considered redundant or not critical.

In physics, several topics, which are considered related but normally taught separately have been merged while others have been omitted completely. Senior two topics like surface tension and capillarity; forms and sources of energy; expansion of solids, liquids, and gasses; magnetism; and electrostatics have been left out.

“These were not carried forward from S.1 because of time constraints and they would not affect the progress of the learners in the subsequent topics in physics,” they noted. Other topics which are taught in the next class have also been left with the agency noting that learners will meet similar content in future studies.

In the same development, most topics in history have been omitted on the grounds that learners have prior knowledge from either primary, real-life experience, other subjects, and previous classes. For instance, S.3 teachers will not teach Sotho State given fact that its formation is related to the concept of state formation in East Africa, which was learned in S.2

Grace Baguma, the Executive Director NCDC, notes that the reorganized curriculum is intended to expedite the learning process by allowing learners to complete the work that they should have covered in the previous academic year in a shorter time frame.

“NCDC identified the key concepts at the different levels of education which the learners could have missed out on in the previous year and merged or carried them forward in the new year. In consultation with experienced teachers, teacher trainers, and examiners the draft syllabi were scrutinized to ensure that the proposed content can be learned in one year without compromising on quality,” she noted adding that upon completion, learners shall be able to progress through to the next classes using the original curriculum.

Geoffrey Birungi, headteacher of Mbarara secondary school notes that an abridged curriculum will be a better tool to create equity since many teachers have been confused on how to recover with each coming up with his or her own model which could confuse learners.

“Previously every school had been left on its own. that was going to breed confusion in the education system. It was difficult to assume that individual teachers could think of what is relevant for these learners in this situation and what is not,” says Birungi.

Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary Uganda National Teachers’ Union-UNATU, notes that although the abridged curriculum is needed. The ministry has delayed rolling it out. He was referring to the fact that although schools are opening in a few days’ time, many teachers are not yet aware of this.

However, Grace Baguma says since the curriculum is not introducing new content but rather guiding teachers on critical content that should be prioritized. Teachers can adapt to it easily when it is out. She adds that after rolling it out, the curriculum will be made available online for teachers to have quick access to it so that they can prepare what to teach in time.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Sports is targeting a period of three years to recover the lost learning time due to the prolonged school closure. Uganda is ranked as the country that has had the longest school closure across the world with a section learner never stepping in a classroom since March 2020 when the first COVID-19 induced lockdown was instituted to prevent the spread of the feared virus.

With education institutions scheduled to fully reopen on January 10, the education ministry has designed an abridged curriculum for which is going to be implemented to recover the lost learning time. Dr. Denis Mugimba, the ministry of education spokesperson, notes that the abridged curriculum will run for three years and they believe that after three years all classes will return to their respective normal curricula.

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