Uganda: Government Creates Syllabus for Home Schooling

The government has started developing an online curriculum for primary and secondary education expected to be ready in two weeks' time.

The content, picked from the old curriculum except for Senior One, will cover all subjects although areas which require practicals and involve students using 'dangerous chemicals' will be deferred to when schools reopen.

The syllabus is being developed by National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) in consultation with Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb).

Ms Grace Baguma, NCDC director, yesterday said they have completed developing materials for lower primary, and are now proof reading before it can be printed.

Ms Baguma said they were given Shs300m to pay writers, illustrators, and to type set, design, edit and proof read the content being developed for 13 classes with more than 15 subjects.

"We are still writing. We are working on materials for the entire year. It is a lot of work. The children are going to continue learning with the materials. They are learning new concepts and we are trying to design them such that they can learn them on their own," Ms Baguma said.

She, however, said she has not established how much she will need to print the work and broadcast it. The curriculum developers have up to July 10 to handover the work to their supervisors.

"People are still writing. You plan for printing when you have the number of pages, and can know how much is going to be charged per page. But there will be a script for radio and video plus books," Ms Baguma said.

Sources at the Ministry of Education, who preferred anonymity in order to speak freely, however, said the curriculum developers have been frustrated by little funding from government to support the development of homeschooling materials.

The source cited how in March when schools were closed following the coronavirus outbreak, the curriculum developers wanted to have content developed for all the topics but were blocked by some top ministry technocrats who insisted to have only materials for revision for the two months the students had been at school.

The source added that officials at NCDC struggled to do the work without resources to even pay the writers.

Mr Alex Kakooza, the Education permanent secretary, has since declined to respond to this newspaper's queries (text messages and on call) on how they are preparing to facilitate the digital teaching which President Museveni ordered last month.

Mr Kakooza, in an earlier interview, said they had spent Shs6b on the first set of online teaching although inside sources at that time indicated that only Shs3b had been dispatched to NCDC out of Shs15b they had budgeted.

Mr John Okumu, the NCDC head of curriculum development, yesterday said learners will be expected to teach themselves in the new arrangement without the help of a teacher.

It is only those learners who have access to television and internet who will be able to look at the demonstrations that will be shared.

"We are writing the materials which the learner is going to use on his own without the help teachers. We must ensure the materials we are developing are talking to the learner the way the teacher would be talking to the learner," Mr Okumu said.

He said although the new material will cover topics as they would have been conducted in the course of the year, those which cannot be done will be postponed to when classes officially open.

"The practicals we are looking at are those which we can give instructions to the learner and the learner is able to follow on his own. We can't do those practicals at this point which need chemicals and are very dangerous. They must be done under the instruction of a teacher. But when the learners go back to their respective schools, we will start from there," Mr Okumu said.

On assessment, Mr Okumu said they are more concerned with skills development during this period, adding that he cannot speculate whether it will inform the questions that will be set for national assessment at the end of primary and secondary cycles.

Teachers weigh in

Mr Filbert Baguma, Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) secretary, asked government to pick out the best teachers to deliver the content after the first set was criticised. "The first set was criticised by the public because it wasn't matching the standards. We have seen others on televisions giving wrong concepts. We expect them to do the screening to get the right teachers to represent the profession to be the cream," he said.

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