UNEB starts trials for New Secondary Curriculum examinations

UNEB adjust examinations timetables

Uganda National Examination Board Executive Secretary Don Odong (PHOTO/Courtesy)

The Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has begun testing sample questions for the assessment under the recently revised lower secondary curriculum.

In 2020, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) undertook a comprehensive revision of the lower secondary curriculum, emphasizing a shift towards competency-based and learner-centred education. Central to this development was the changes in assessment.
Consequently, these transformative changes necessitated a re-evaluation of the examination procedures and numerous schools across the country have now been chosen to participate in this targeted research initiative.

Christine Atim, a teacher from Wakiso School for the Deaf shared insights with our reporter, recounting an event where a contingent of officials from the examinations body visited their institution. During this visit, a collection of question papers was distributed among a group of students, selected at random.

“I wasn’t entirely clear about their purpose, but the individuals were representatives of UNEB, and they distributed various question papers to a diverse set of students,” Atim said during an interview yesterday.

UNEB spokesperson Jennifer Kalule Musamba confirmed that the board is undertaking a trial for the examinations.  Musamba added that since the curriculum’s implementation, the board has been diligently collaborating with a panel of both internal and external examination experts, whose collective efforts have been directed towards formulating an assessment framework that resonates with the revised curriculum.

More information obtained from the examination body indicates that the ongoingprocess involves a comprehensive review, encompassing various aspects. One of the focal points pertains to the nature and structure paper. For example, in the old curriculum, papers were categorized into either two or three sections.

There is a contemplation underway to ascertain the number of papers per subject in the current context and figure out the structures of the questions to decide whether to include structured questions, objectives, and application-based questions among others.
Similarly, Musamba added that subject experts are actively engaged in scrutinizing the temporal requirements for the assessment process. This encompasses an array of considerations, including the duration needed for the completion of a single examination.

The spokesperson explained that the ongoing trials are essentially preliminary versions dubbed mock trials designed to assist subject experts in formulating improved assessments. She mentioned that following the current activity, they anticipate receiving feedback from learners, teachers, subject experts, and NCDC.

Following this stage, they will work on creating improved assessments, which will undergo another round of testing in schools at the start of the upcoming year. Only after these steps will the final versions be introduced.

According to the plan, once UNEB finalizes the envisioned structure of the new exams, sample materials will be dispersed to schools nationwide. These samples will serve as tools for teachers to ready their students, who will be pioneer candidates in senior by that point.

Teachers have expressed concerns about the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) for its delay in communicating the details of the assessment structures and the anticipated quantity of exam papers for each subject to schools.

On the other hand, some education experts have downplayed the teachers’ concerns, suggesting that their focus on aligning teaching methods with the anticipated exam formats has historically posed significant challenges, as seen during the transition from the previous curriculum.

In the newly revised curriculum, the influence of final examinations has been diminished. In the past, a student’s performance in the final exam held complete sway over their overall achievement in a specific educational phase.

Now, the final scores will be comprised of 80 per cent from the final examinations and the remaining 20 per cent will be derived from continuous assessments administered to students at the conclusion of each topic within a particular subject.

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