By Angela Kyagaba, NCDC Curriculum Specialist, English and literature in English (Secondary Department)
National Curriculum Development Centre is soon rolling out the New Lower Secondary Curriculum framework which will comprise 21subjects. The subjects were carefully selected in order to create a balance between the three learning domains, namely, the cognitive, affective and psychomotor.
Through this framework, the learners, at this level, will receive a holistic education, while enabling them to acquire the skills required throughout the world in the 21st century.
The learner in Senior 1 and 2 will be expected to study all the 14 subjects of which 12 will be compulsory while two are electives. The compulsory subjects will be English language/Sign language, mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry (or general science), entrepreneurship education, geography, history with political education, Christian religious education/Islamic religious education, physical education, and Kiswahili.
Learners will choose one elective/ optional subject from skills-based subject and languages. The skills-based subjects include technology and design, performing arts, entrepreneurship, nutrition and food technology as well as art and design.
Learners will choose one elective from literature in English, local languages, and foreign languages.
*Learners with special needs will have a total of 10 subjects as a result of studying general science as an alternative to the 3 science subjects.
At the end of Senior Two, the learners will have the opportunity to make a choice on the number of electives that they may wish to continue with up to Senior Four.
At Senior Three and Four, the learner will study 7 compulsory subjects. There will be an opportunity for him/her to make a choice from the elective subjects. The learners will exit with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 10 subjects. The subjects identified at this level will determine the next level, namely, ‘A’ level, tertiary institutions or the world of work.
The compulsory subjects at Senior Three and Four will be English language/ Sign language, mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry (or general science), geography and history with political education.
The learners will, in addition to the 7 compulsory subjects, pick a minimum of one and maximum of three subjects from skills-based, languages, humanities. Skills-based subjects include technology and design, agriculture, performing art, art and design, entrepreneurship, nutrition and food technology, computer studies, and physical education. Literature in English, local languages, foreign languages and Kiswahili are the languages to be chosen. Under humanities, the learners will choose Christian religious education or Islamic religious education. There is justification for the teaching of the different subjects, for instance, learners will study English language because it is the official language and medium of instruction at the secondary level of education. It also promotes all the other aspects of learning a language and helps in the acquisition of cognitive skills by learners. Literature in English will develop the learner’s literary skills of comprehension, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, application and organization, which can be used in other disciplines.
Mathematics prepares the learner for further education and helps with the development of cognitive domain. The interconnectedness of concepts in biology provides support for learners to better comprehend other science subjects of agriculture, mathematics and geography. Chemistry provides answers to the challenges faced in our society by empowering learners with creativity, innovation and to use independent approaches to solve problems. Learners acquire the knowledge and explore the properties of substances, as well as the processes in which those substances take part, and the materials obtained through the modern industry.
Physics does not only prepare learners for a variety of scientific careers but also produces physicists for the scientific advancement of knowledge and societal development. Geography helps learners acquire a range of skills, such as mapping skills, data handling and interpretation, visual skills, interactive and collaborative skills, and critical thinking.
History and political education enable learners acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need to participate actively in society. Learners also become aware of factors that influenced the actions of people who lived in the past so that they can determine the future. Learners become focused as they study people in relation to the societies in which they live and the environments in which they existed.
To provide scientific knowledge and skills to learners in special category—those with special needs, prisoners, and learners not in formal school system and cannot carry out science experiments in the main science areas—general science is offered.
Foreign languages will equip learners with the ability to communicate with diverse societies of the world. In so doing, they are able to create opportunities for trade and employment in more countries that speak different languages.
Local language fulfils the function of preparing learners to participate fully in social, cultural, political and economic life within national and international contexts. It forms a foundation for learning other languages. The teaching and learning Kiswahili makes East African integration possible, if there is a single medium of communication.
Art and design provides learners with practical skills of art-making and art response, besides preparing the individual for lifelong education and job creation. In order to bring up an all-round-person grounded in values and aspects that promote acceptable behavior, Religious education is taught. Performing art is one of the subjects that builds the individual’s self-actualization in firming up of talent. It also creates self-esteem and sense of belonging which is critical in the formative years of growth.
Agriculture allows learners to acquire practical skills related to the occupation done by the greater majority of Ugandans in their economic and social life, besides preparing the youth for the world of work. Nutrition and food technology is a skills-based subject which is critical for the wellbeing of learners, and also for further education.
Entrepreneurship provides for creativity and innovativeness among learners. It will also empower them with skills for starting and managing business projects. It also incorporates concepts of all the other business education subjects, such as commerce, accounts and office practice.
Physical education provides for healthy and social living, and prepares one for both lifelong living and employment opportunities in the field of sports. Computer studies will help to accelerate learning through the use of technology as a learning tool.
Last but not least, technology and design will provide learners with skills of developing and designing models for project interpretations while creating structures for use.
The ‘O’ Level leaver, after going through the proposed curriculum, will have acquired the key competencies which stem from the Sustainable Development Goals, the aspirations of Uganda as a country as provided for in Vision 2040, and the general Aims of Secondary Education, as given in the Government White Paper on Education. The profile of the graduate will include ability to communicate fluently both orally and in written form, and apply computation of basic mathematics concepts, principles and processes to solve problems in daily life. The graduate will also be able to inquire and apply scientific, technological and agricultural knowledge for self-employment, besides being able to innovate, create, think critically and be entrepreneurial.
The graduate will use information technology and communication to access, gather, evaluate, store and present information. The learner will acquire knowledge by studying, researching, building on existing knowledge and experience, and assessing the status of own learning thus identifying and solving problems and making decisions.
The O’ Level graduate will manage self by setting own goals, being financially literate and observing personal health and protecting the environment which will enable him/her to build relationships, identify and manage conflict, relate with others and work effectively with others as members of a team.
Moses Wamanga is a Senior Education Specialist serving as a Team Lead at KAWA Uganda, an innovation and Edtech support organization that provides Professional Development services to enhance learning outcomes for educators and Learners around the country.