The implementation of the new lower secondary curriculum has suffered another setback as teachers of the pioneer class, now in senior three, lack teaching materials. The missing essential materials that teachers across the country are requesting include the teacher’s textbooks and learner’s guides.
According to the schedule, the Ministry of Education and Sports was expected to deliver the key materials to schools in December of last year and in January of this year to assist teachers in preparing their schemes of work in time for the school reopening.
Isaac Muganda, a teacher in Wakiso district, says that in the absence of the required materials, many teachers are already resorting to the old curriculum for, which teaching materials are available. “Due to the absence of these materials, mainly books, many teachers are reverting to the old curriculum. This may not be ideal, and therefore, we urge the government (Ministry of Education) to deliver these books as soon as possible,” Muganda said.
During a recent interview, Dr. Grace Baguma, the Director of the National Curriculum Development Centre-NCDC, confirmed that the required books had not yet arrived in schools. Although several teachers were attributing the unavailability of the materials to NCDC, Baguma clarified that the responsibility lies with the Education Ministry.
“The problem is not ours, as many people out there are saying. We designed the curriculum, and the Ministry procured service providers who were tasked with developing, producing, and distributing the teachers’ textbooks and learners’ guides,” she said.
The curriculum developer advised teachers that, in the meantime, they can use available textbooks and other materials from the old curriculum to generate content and learning activities for their students. “Our teachers need to learn to be creative and innovative. The new curriculum is not entirely alien, and someone should be able to use the old materials available to generate content and learning activities for their students,” Baguma said.
John Okumu Emorut, the manager for secondary education at NCDC also noted that NCDC has been training teachers on textbook writing, to develop materials for use in the classroom. He states that using this knowledge, teachers are expected to develop some content to kickstart teaching in Senior Three as they wait for government textbooks.
Charles Kahigiriza, the headteacher of Ndejje Secondary School noted that the absence of these materials is greatly affecting the implementation of the curriculum. Kahigiriza revealed that in the absence of the required materials, some innovative teachers are using the syllabus to develop their own teaching materials. He, however, pointed out that developing such materials can only be done by teachers who have mastered the curriculum.
Muganda, however, disagreed with Baguma and Kunya, stating that what they are saying is the ideal thing that is expected, but the reality on the ground is completely different. He argued that to date, many teachers have not yet understood the new curriculum, and others have never got a chance to train on the same.
“Few training sessions have been provided, and they have not benefited all teachers. The situation is worse in the private sector. Using old textbooks would not have been an issue, but some teachers end up teaching outdated curriculum when instructed to use their old textbooks, which poses a risk,” he added.
According to available information, the Ministry awarded contracts to 19 publishing companies to produce books for Senior Three and Four. The books are reportedly worth Shillings 40 billion and will be distributed to both private and public secondary schools.
Our reporter has since been given two different reasons for what has caused the delay in distributing the necessary books. Okumu stated that the reason for the delay in distributing the necessary books is that the Ministry has not yet conducted a validation exercise for the books delivered for Senior One and Two.
The official argued that the distribution of Senior Three books cannot be carried out until the validation exercise for the previous lot is completed.
Dr. Denis Mugimba, the Ministry’s spokesperson, provided a different explanation when contacted. Mugimba stated that the validation exercise for senior one and senior two was completed a while ago. Mugimba added that the procurement of senior three textbooks was completed but there were some delays on the part of the publishers.
Since the introduction of the new curriculum in 2020, its implementation has been challenging. It should be noted that even during the initial rollout, schools did not have the necessary materials for Senior One learners.
Due to the absence of these textbooks and limited training on how to handle the new curriculum, many teachers gave up on the new curriculum and continued with the old one. Recently, during a meeting with headteachers held in Kampala for the Senior One selection process, Ketty Lamaro the Permanent Secretary acknowledged this fact and appealed to headteachers to ensure that their teachers implement the new competency-based curriculum.