14 November 2012

Uganda: Languages Not Scrapped From New Curriculum

Arabic, Luganda and other languages are still part of the proposed new O' level curriculum which is to be rolled out in three years' time, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) announced on Wednesday.

The ongoing overhaul of the curriculum is intended to condense the 43 subjects taught in lower secondary into seven core learning areas.

Presenting the new curriculum framework to journalists at a consultative workshop, NCDC top officials explained that languages were part of the proposed seven learning areas.

The workshop was held at the NCDC offices in Kyambogo, a Kampala suburb.

There has been public outcry over misconceptions that NCDC was planning to scrap Luganda and Arabic off the new curriculum in favour of English and Kiswahili.

The Buganda Lukiiko this week asked Katikkiro (Premier) Eng. J.B. Walusimbi to petition Parliament over the matter.

"English and Kiswahili, the two official languages in Uganda, will be compulsory in O' level not because of our own making but because it's a matter of national policy," said Ismail Magezi, the languages curriculum specialist at NCDC.

Magezi explained that Arabic, French, Chinese and German were some of the foreign languages so far suggested in the new curriculum while Luganda is among the third category of 65 local languages.

"We want to see whether students can have freedom to choose a third language either from foreign or local languages on top of the official languages or study four languages - two official, one foreign and one local language. Consultations on this are still ongoing," Magezi clarified.

NCDC's deputy director, Grace Baguma said the curriculum development agency had encountered challenges in trying to cater for the 65 local languages, some of which lack basic literature.

"There are so many local languages in Uganda yet as a national institution, we have to promote all of them equally. We must not appear to be promoting one language over the others," said Baguma.

"But we realise that some languages lack teachers and the requisite instructional materials. We need to consult widely before implementing anything, lest we might rush and the entire policy crashes."

Besides languages, the other 'learning areas' in the new curriculum include Social Studies, which will house the current Political Education, History and Geography.

The subjects of Agriculture, Food technology, Entrepreneurship and Computer have been condensed into one learning area of Technology and Enterprise.

The other 'learning areas' include Mathematics, Science, Life education and Creative Arts.

NCDC's director, Conie Kateeba said the new curriculum was intended to provide a holistic education which can promote critical thinking, creativity and innovation among students.

"We want a curriculum that does not emphasize passing exams, but one that provides students with practical skills and a positive attitude towards work," Kateeba said.

An analysis by NCDC early this year revealed that the current O'level curriculum was overloaded, outdated and did not adequately address contemporary demands of the job market.

Another labour market survey also by NCDC showed that over 60% of employers in Uganda perceive their workers to be inadequately skilled, making it a major hindrance to the growth of their businesses.

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