New curriculum rollout progresses, school lockdown not withstanding

New Curricullum Master Trainers Under Going Retooling at Trinity College Nabbingo, Aug 2020

The Ministry of Education and Sports is progressing with several activities for the rollout of the New Revised Lower Secondary School Curriculum in Uganda. The implementation of the new curriculum by schools was disrupted by the Coronavirus Pandemic which led to school lockdown on March 20th. At the time, the new curriculum pioneer senior one 2020 students had only studied for 1 month and two weeks.

Nevertheless, the ministry, through its departments, institutions and partners like the National Curriculum Development Center, Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), the Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB), the Instructional Materials Unit (IMU) among others, has been doing many activities to support the new curriculum rollout, even during the schools lockdown. The activities include (among others):

  1. Retooling new curriculum trainers of trainers (master trainers),
  2. Training of more school teachers who had not yet been trained under the first phase of trainings in February,
  3. Conducting evaluation of the New Curriculum Instructional Materials for S1 and S2 (including pre-evaluation training and vetting of teachers to evaluate several textbooks submitted by publishers who responded to the bid notice),  
  4. Inviting more bids for Instructional Materials for S3 and S4 for the New Curriculum
  5. Designing the assessment framework that will be used to assess learners after completing vocational studies at level one under the new lower secondary curriculum

Retooling of New Curriculum Trainers of Trainers / Master Trainers

The initial training of secondary school teachers on the new curriculum was faced with challenges at some of the SESEMAT in-service training centers where the trainings were taking place. Particularity, the teachers complained that the trainers of trainers were not delivering well. For instance, during the five-day training which started on Sunday 2nd Feb 2020 at Iganga Secondary School, by Wednesday morning, the teachers were protesting-they refused to enter the training hall, arguing that from the start of the training, they had failed to grasp the changes in the curriculum and accused the instructors of not being knowledgeable enough on the revised curriculum.

“The trainers seem not to have understood well what they are meant to teach us to go and implement because you cannot tell me that when you go to a class, every learner’s contribution is correct,” one of the teachers said.

“The trainers are rushing yet the content is too much. When you ask them some questions, they get pissed off,” Mr Gerald Mwanda, another teacher said.

To address these challenges, the ministry through the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) organized a 1 – week retooling workshop for some of the Master Trainers before embarking on conducting more trainings. The master trainers retooling took place  from Sunday 23rd to Friday 28th August at Trinity College Nabbingo.

A teacher using ICT tools to deliver a demo lesson to group members during the master trainers retooling  session at Trinity College Nabbingo
A teacher using ICT tools to deliver a demo lesson to fellow teachers during the master trainers retooling session at Trinity College Nabbingo on Fri 28th August, 2020.

This workshop was meant to improve the knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes of the master trainers so that when they are sent out to train other teachers, they do it confidently as ambassadors of the curriculum.

2nd Phase of Training Starting With Eastern Region

After the retooling workshop at Trinity College Nabbingo, the Master Trainers were sent out in groups to train teachers in parts of Busoga and Bukedi regions particularly in Namutumba, Tororo, Iganga, Butaleja, Kamuli, Buyende, and Jinja districts. These concurrent trainings which took place at various SESEMAT centers were held from 30thAugust to 5th September 2020.

In Namutumba where I was deployed as a part of the team of master trainers, the workshop was hosted by Kisiki College, Namutumba. The teachers were taken through a number of sessions, such as: introduction to the lower secondary curriculum review, rationale and features of the syllabus document, analysis of subject syllabus documents, linkage between the syllabus, the learners book and teachers guide, using ICT for teaching and learning,  activity or project based teaching, formative assessment,  assessment in the word of work, criterion referenced assessment, assessment  for learning, a competency – based lesson, creating activities of integration, scheming and planning a competence based lesson, among others as summarized in this brief report.

 Some of the Namutumba workshop session presentations were shared through this google drive link (NB: Information in these presentations is subject to change and will not necessarily be the same for future trainings, the  master trainers usually hold harmonization meetings to revise and improve on them and also create new presentations for each training.  I’ve shared them here for revision purposes only).

On the last day of the training, the teachers were tasked to conduct mini lessons to demonstrate what they had learned during the training, the video below shows some of the demo lessons and conclusion of the workshop.

 

I am reliably informed that this week starting on Wednesday 16th to Tuesday 22nd December 2020, NCDC/MoES teams of National and Master trainers are going to conduct trainings in the remaining SESEMAT regions in Eastern Uganda, including Bugisu Sebei SESEMAT region (at Kapchorwa SS, Bududa SS, Magale SS, and Masaba SS), Teso SESEMAT region ( at Teso College Aloet and Ngora High), Karamoja SESEMAT region (at Kotido SS and Moroto High) and Mbale SESEMAT region (at Mbale SS, Kamonkoli College, Mbale Progresive and Dabani Girls).

Evaluation of the New Curriculum Instructional Materials for S1 and S2

New Curriculum-based textbooks for learners’ use and corresponding teachers guides are a key requirement if the curriculum is to be rolled out successfully.  When the school first term opened in February, the textbooks were not ready yet senior one students needed them because the books play a key role of instructional materials during the conduct of a competence based lesson.

To solve this need/scarcity, the National Curriculum Development Center availed prototypes of the textbooks in softcopy so that schools could start with them as they wait for the final textbooks. The Procurement and Disposal Unit at the Ministry of Education and Sports invited sealed bids for supply of textbooks for S1 and S2 for 5 years under framework contract. Subsequently, the ministry through the Instructional Materials Unit is utilizing this period when senior one students are still at home due to COVID19 school closure, to review and evaluate the books and choose the best ones and also suggest revisions for editing before final print and distribution to schools.

From 4th November to 4th December 2020 at St. John Bosco Nyondo Core PTC, Mbale, the ministry invited evaluators who included; officials from the ministry, staff from the Instructional Materials Unit at the ministry, NCDC staff, university lectures, subject curriculum specialists and over 300 subject teachers, to read though the books which various publishers had submitted, and score them basing on a standard evaluation tool for instructional materials.

The key factors for technical quality which were the main focus of evaluation of textbooks were; conformity to / coverage of the curriculum (including the prescribed competencies, themes/topics and the inclusion of the rationale), correctness and clarity of information (with logical flow, adequate depth of content for the level and being up-to date), quality of examples, maps, grids readings (being appropriate, inclusive and depicting real life situations), quality of practical activities (being relevant, doable, safe and inclusive), general and specific educational quality of the content (offering opportunity for acquisition of Knowledge, Understanding, Values, Attitudes and Skills (KUSVA)), language (grammar, punctuation, choice of words, sentences and paragraph construction and keywords) being appropriate to the subject and the level of the learners, pedagogical approach (organizing content from known to unknown and simple to complex, being in conformity with Kolb’s experiential learning style, promotion of the generic skills outlined in the curriculum and subject specific skills, use of a variety of methods to cater for mixed abilities and special education needs, having suitable summative chapter activities of integration and promoting assessment for learning of assessment that informs instruction), quality of design (proper page layout, font size, style, spacing, emphasizing essential elements), good quality illustrations (having various formats of illustrations, well contrasting and colored, stimulating learning, familiar and logically distributed in relation to text), and originality (having a bibliography, promoting positive interaction between humankind and environment and not having plagiarised content).

Before this evaluation exercise, a pre-evaluation training and vetting workshop for evaluators was first conducted from 25th to 30th October 2020 at St. Marys College, Kisubi. Download Introductory Session Slides: Introductory Presentation On The New Lower Secondary Curriculum (S.1– 4) (43 downloads)

 

Inviting more bids for Instructional Materials for S3 and S4 for the New Curriculum

The ministry last month advertised for the procurement of publishers for supply of instruction materials for lower secondary schools (S.3 & S.4) for 5 years under procurement reference number: MOES/SUPLS/20-21/00080. Bidding documents can be purchased from the cashier on 5th Floor, Embassy House Kampala and must be delivered to the PDU Unit of the Ministry of Education and Sports, 7th Floor Embassy House before 11:00am and on 13th January 2021 as per the advert below which appeared in the New Vision Newspaper on 13th November, 2020.

Invitation for Bids Advert for S3 and S4 New Curriculum Textbooks
Invitation for Bids Advert for S3 and S4 New Curriculum Textbooks

Designing the Assessment Framework for Vocational Studies (for Awarding Level 1 Certificate after S3)

One of the other activities that have been going on in line with the new curriculum is designing the assessment framework for Vocational Studies.  

The ministry of Education and Sports in conjunction with The Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) has launched a new framework for teaching all vocational subjects under the revised lower secondary curriculum. As soon as schools reopen for other classes, the framework will be implemented starting with senior one students who are also pioneers of the new curriculum.

 

The director of DIT, Patrick Byakatonda, said that the economy faces critical skills gaps that threaten to limit the growth of key sectors. With the new curriculum, he says, the education sector shall eliminate training costs incurred by employers to prepare people for particular jobs.

“Occupational assessment is not about writing exams the way UNEB does it. For instance, if a school focuses on Nutrition and Food Technology, we bring assessors to test whether one knows how to prepare the meals,” Byakatonda says.

He adds that individual modules will be assessed and awarded in S1 and S2 while the entire occupation will be assessed in S3 leading to the award of a Level one national certificate of competence. This assessment, Byakatonda says, will help to introduce learners early to the labour market with requisite skills and their levels of competence. “A learner will have, for instance, completed metal work in the school system but one’s level of competence is recognised even abroad since they get national certificates,” he said.

The directorate has developed and reviewed Assessment and Training Packages (ATPs) under performing arts, technology and design, physical education, ICT, art and design, Agriculture, Entrepreneurship, nutrition and technology.

So far, 40 occupations have been developed, leaving DIT with 28 occupations to complete all the eight vocational subjects. Some of the occupations are; builder, poultry farmer, winemaker, hairdresser, phone repairer, visual painter, dramatist and swimmer.

Byakatonda notes that they want to ensure that all schools have enough teachers and materials to be used in the new curriculum. He, however, says their biggest challenge now is to orient teachers to fully understand the concept.

While launching the framework at Lugogo recently, the  Permanent Secretary, Alex Kakooza noted that DIT will continue to identify and develop standards for non-formal occupations.

Conclusion

The new curriculum rollout started with a lot of resistance from some of the stakeholders, including the Members of Parliament and School headteachers. The MPs wondered how government, through the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), could roll out the curriculum without textbooks to aid the teaching and learning and majority of the teachers were not yet trained on the new methodologies. Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga wondered how the ministry could table prototype documents with disclaimers as materials being used to train a few teachers. MPs felt that the rollout of the curriculum was being rushed when many requirements were not yet in place. The headteachers also expressed fear, saying that they lacked the resources like textbooks and trained teachers to implement the new curriculum. Mr Alban Arindu, the head teacher of Owaffa Secondary School in Arua, said: “The government has come with the programme late. Up to now, they have not yet trained our teachers. They have only called some teachers.”

I believe the Schools Lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has on a positive side given the various stakeholders some additional time for more activities such as training /  retooling of more teachers, development and evaluation of textbooks and other instructional materials, and designing the assessment framework and other curriculum documents which were pending. When the schools fully reopen next year, every stakeholder will be readier to continue the rollout and implementation of the curriculum!

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