New Vision (Kampala)

19 May 2008

Uganda: Reform Education System - Expert

Maputo — Uganda should review her schooling system to allow students choose a career path after Senior Two, an education expert has suggested.

Under the proposal, a learner would have nine years of compulsory basic education before choosing to proceed to Senior Three or to take other learning paths like vocational training.

This, the expert says, should be preceded by reforms in the curriculum so that a limited number of core subjects are taught at the junior secondary level.

The World Bank senior education specialist in Uganda, Harriet Nannyonjo, recently told participants at an education conference in Maputo, Mozambique that the current school system was conservative.

"Some of the students shouldn't necessarily go through the mainstream school structure.

"We have those who would want to go to vocational school, but the system cannot reward or recognise them if they drop out at whatever stage. They have to wait for Senior Four before they proceed."

She said letting learners choose after Senior Two would also help reduce costs of education.

Nannyonjo said Uganda faced the challenge of making the universal secondary education match the demands of the 21st century.

"The system should be dynamic, it should take care of different learners."

She said the system should move away from the exam-oriented assessment.

"Once you move to a system of trying to universalise education, the assessment should involve identifying weaknesses and addressing them rather than exams, which sideline the academically inept."

On the curriculum review, Nannyonjo said it was commendable that Uganda was making initial strides to reduce the 40 O'level subjects by half.

The World Bank's lead education specialist for Africa, Jacob Bregman, said a nine-year basic education cycle was a common model worldwide.

"The cycle is then followed by diversified learning paths, which allows students develop their full potential," Bregman said.

"This also gives an answer to the soaring demand for places at secondary level and helps to align the system with international benchmarks."

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