Education Ministry Under Scrutiny for Curriculum Transition

A resolution by the administration to uphold the current Advanced level (A’level) syllabus for students who have initiated the new competency-based Ordinary level (O’Level) curriculum has sparked criticism from legislators.

The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) initiated the adoption of the competency-based curriculum in 2020, starting with Senior One. These students will undertake their national examinations in November this year and then proceed to A’level in 2025.

The Minister of State for Education and Sports (Primary Education), Joyce Moriku, informed Members of Parliament (MPs) that the students will be instructed using the traditional A’level curriculum due to ongoing consultations by the government.

“In the interim, the Ministry of Education and Sports has allocated funds in the financial year 2024/2025 for the continuation of the review of the A ‘level curriculum to align it with competency standards. MoES will ensure readiness in terms of teacher training, instructional materials, and adequacy,” she remarked.

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, however, urged the Minister to clarify how students who followed the competency-based curriculum will select subjects for A’level using the traditional curriculum.

“I believed this would be a seamless transition, I thought we were prepared for it. This is a very sensitive issue, and the entire nation is bewildered,” Tayebwa expressed.

He further noted that the Minister’s statement should have outlined the Ministry’s actions to ensure a smooth transition.

“There is still a long road ahead for students to adapt. If you are still at the stakeholder level, what measures are we taking?” Tayebwa inquired.

Hon. Faith Nakut (NRM, Napak District Woman MP) proposed that in the absence of a transition plan for the students, certificates equivalent to A’level should be issued.

“Our children’s mental well-being will suffer as they transition from the new curriculum to the old one. Children have not faced rigorous processes at O’level, and that’s how much their mental health will be jeopardized,” Nakut stated.

The Minister requested time to consult with the government on the matter and promised to report back to Parliament the following week.

Tayebwa gave the Minister until Tuesday, 20 February, to provide a report, emphasizing the need to inform parents about the fate of their children.

Additionally, the MPs criticized the Ministry for implementing the lower secondary level competency-based curriculum without conducting broader consultations.

Hon. Abed Bwanika (NUP, Kimaanya-Kabonera Division MP) advocated for a review of the school calendar to allow students more time to engage with communities.

“Competency-based learning necessitates that children spend more time in society because society becomes a learning center; so that students acquire skills from society,” he explained.

The MPs also disregarded the Minister’s statement on government measures to address excessive school fees.

The Minister stated that the government has issued directives prohibiting school owners from unjustifiably raising school fees.

“No school, whether Private or Government-owned, shall raise school fees without written authorization from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Sports/Chief Administrative Officer/Town Clerk,” she emphasized.

However, Tayebwa noted that the Minister’s statement lacked clarity on actions taken against those violating the guidelines.

“The question was simple, you have implemented all measures. We know there are schools not adhering to these guidelines, what actions are you taking against them? Do you have any sanctions for schools not complying with the guidelines?” Tayebwa queried.

Hon. Jonathan Odur (UPC, Erute County South MP) proposed that debate on the Minister’s statement be postponed until she reports back with measures taken against errant school proprietors.

Chairperson of the Committee on Education, Hon. John Twesigye, requested that the Committee include the Minister’s statement in the committee’s report, which is due for presentation.

“The Minister has presented the same information the committee had requested, but she did not provide it to us. I request that the committee presents the report so that the matter is thoroughly examined,” he suggested.

Tayebwa instructed the Committee to present the report on Tuesday, 20 February.

“The Minister should appear before the Committee and outline measures taken or that can be taken against school owners charging exorbitant fees,” he concluded.