Secondary school teachers are worried about the number of work students in senior six need to learn before they sit for national examinations in November.
According to the teachers, the students who normally spend the majority of their time in S.6 carrying out revision ahead of the Uganda Advanced Certificate Examinations will now have to cover the curriculum content for both S.5 and S.6 in one class.
Although the abridged curriculum designed by the National Curriculum Development Center tried to condense the content that would have been covered in two years into one, the load according to teachers remained a lot.
For instance, in Biology, students will have to cover all S5and S6 content in one class. The only topic that has been left out is cell biology. “These topics had not been covered before students went into knockdown except Cell biology, “a statement from NCDC explains.
Emmanuel Ssempiira, the Dean of Studies at Kampala High School, says the Advanced level already had a lot of content that is supposed to be covered in two years with teachers now faced with the hard task of covering this content in less than eight months.
Ssempiira says teachers will have to race to cover everything in one year. According to him, as such many subjects won’t be covered. He foresees that by November, most teachers will likely have covered about 70 percent.
Although the curriculum was condensed to remove some topics and to enable schools to cover what is important, teachers are also worried that this could lead students astray in examinations. Ssempiira says they are worried UNEB might set examinations using the standard curriculum which might leave students disadvantaged.
Peter Opolot, the Deputy Headteacher in charge of academics at Old Kampala SS, says students offering sciences will be the most affected since they have a lot of work to cover that needs practical lessons. Gombe says, unlike humanities, students who offer sciences need time to carry out practicals to better understand what is being taught. He says the times they have been allocated are not enough.
“For humanities, serious students must have covered a lot during the two-year unprecedented holiday given the fact that they have been provided with content in the form of self-study materials. but their science counterparts could not self-teach much of the concepts, they needed a teacher to guide them,” says Opolot.
Edward Kanoonya, the headteacher Kololo Secondary School, says learners who took advantage and utilized the two-year lockdown to read might not be much affected by the limited time available. He adds that those who didn’t bother to cover some content during the lockdown will certainly suffer from a huge content load.
Kanoonya, says he has heard many teachers plotting to expand the teaching-learning time for the class in question. But, according to him, this will be a burden to the learners and deny them enough resting time. He suggests that schools should follow the teaching periods as allocated by NCDC in the abridged curriculum.
Despite these complaints from several teachers, a look at the abridge curriculum indicated that in many subjects, several topics especially those taught at O’Level were removed from the curriculum so as to reduce content, avoid repetition, and save time.
But several teachers insisted that leaving out some content might not help since a lot of the concepts which are being referred to as repeated should not necessarily be skipped since at A’level they are taught in detail compared to similar topics covered at O’ level.
With teachers worried about how they will cover the two years’ content in one year, educationists at post-secondary institutions are also concerned about the caliber of learners that will join tertiary institutions and universities from this year’s cohort.
Dr Mouhamad Mpezamihigo, the Vice-Chancellor of Kampala International University, noted that even during normal years’ secondary schools have been churning out students with little or low competencies. This time round Mpezamihigo is worried the situation could be worse.
Dr Mpezamihigo says that schools need to look at the needs of individual learners to ensure that each student gets the required competencies before leaving A ‘level.
Alex Kawuma, a parent, argues that senior six teachers are now focused on giving much content to the learners at the expense of acquisition of the desired competencies, knowledge, skills, and values.
“Every teacher is now after completing the syllabus. I don’t think that they give our children enough time to understand the concepts being taught. It’s another round of cram work. Actually, I wanted my daughter to repeat senior five so that she learns at a normal pace but other factors have pushed me to let her sit for senior six this year,” said Kawuma.
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