Kampala — The government has overhauled the O-Level curriculum, dropping or merging 23 subjects and approving only 20 to be taught.
Mr James Droti, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) specialist, said the method of assessing performance of lower secondary students has been revised, with Uganda Certificate of Education examination results now accounting for 80 per cent.
Mr Droti told this newspaper yesterday that a continuous competence assessment based on skills attained in subjects taught from Senior One to Four will account for 20 per cent of the O-Level final score.
Under the new arrangement, students will still take inter-class promotional examination but the focus of the teaching and learning is shifting from marks-based objective approach to one that emphasises competence or acquired skills.
It is unclear how this competence will be tested. The teaching of North American geography and Canadian Prairies, which is about mass wheat growing, has been scrapped.
Our investigations show that Ministry of Education and NCDC officials presented the changes to President Museveni during a meeting on Thursday, and he endorsed them.
President Museveni's acceptance of the changes, one official said, was a departure and relief to the team whose earlier proposals on re-touching O-Level curriculum he rejected in December 2016.
Following last week's green light, Mr Droti said they intend to pilot the new curriculum next year and roll it countrywide in 2020.
"The reviewed curriculum was finally accepted. The problem was that we had packaged it in learning areas, but we had to retain the subject-based approach as advised," he said, adding: "The new curriculum we have designed is competence-based as opposed to objectives. It will encourage teachers look at what students are able to do on a particular topic before they proceed to another."
Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, Uganda National Teachers' Union (Unatu) chairperson, yesterday said the teachers as the end users of the revised curriculum have not been involved and warned that if it does not produce the results expected, it should be the curriculum developers to blame.
"The 0-Level curriculum review has been done silently without the teachers. When it is rolled out, we are the implementers. Whatever challenges we will meet, they must be blamed on NCDC," Mr Tumuhimbise said.
"Those subjects which were dropped or merged had teachers, where are they going? The primary curriculum lost track because there was no preparation and the books are there in libraries gathering dust. That is likely to happen in secondary," he added.
Mr Tumuhimbise narrated how Kiswahili and Music were introduced in the primary curriculum about 15 years ago but they were never taught because the teachers were not retooled and prepared in advance.
Already the ministry is short of Shs2b it requires for preliminary activities, including refresher in-service training, according to Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza.
There had been up to 43 subjects examined in O-Level, but former Education minister Namirembe Bitamazire unilaterally reduced them to 32.
That change was not institutionalised and a January 2017 decision by the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) not to examine some of the impugned subjects piled pressure for the curriculum reforms.
The NCDC said they have integrated the former minister's proposal and further reduced the number of O-Level subjects to 20.
As such, 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 S1 and S2.
"We have removed obsolete information, merged topics to take care of overlaps and introduced relevant topics that we hope will contribute to nation building," Mr Droti said.
The content for Principles of Accounts and Commerce have been merged into Entrepreneurship while Technical Drawing, Wood Work and Metal Work have been merged into the newly-introduced subject; Technology and Design.
Home Economics was dropped as a stand-alone subject and is now subsumed under Food and Nutrition.
Schools will be expected to run classes from 8:30am to 2:30pm, allowing students two additional hours each day for self-discovery and engagement with teachers before school closure at 4:30pm.
Approved O-Level subjects
Information Communication and Technology
Nutrition and Food Technology
Technology and Design
Performing Arts (Music, Dance and Drama)
Literature in English
Some dropped subjects
Power and Energy
Electricity and Electronics
Textile and clothing
Building and construction
Fasihi ya Kiswahili
Textile and Clothing