Impact of thematic curriculum yet to be felt – experts

By: PATIENCE AHIMBISIBWE

ARUA: Although government reviewed the primary school curriculum seven years ago, experts have warned that the impact will not be felt soon.

According to the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), it will take time to realise the impact of the thematic curriculum, the pioneers having sat last year. The thematic curriculum was introduced to address the literacy and numeracy weaknesses, the overcrowded curriculum and the promotion of lifelong skills among children.

Under this curriculum, local languages are used as a medium of instruction from P1 to P3 before switching to English language. The guideline was later relaxed that urban schools can use English as a medium of communication, something that has drawn criticism. Ms Connie Kateeba, NCDC director explained that there are many factors to consider before results are attained from a reviewed curriculum.

For instance, she said that the public especially stakeholders in private schools were not receptive when they first rolled out the thematic curriculum in Primary One in 2007. This meant that they had to refocus and extend their sensitisation to allow every player on the same footing. But even then, Ms Kateeba added that they were limited with resources to retool teachers in the new curriculum and teaching materials were a nightmare to many teachers.

This has changed with time, though she says that results should be expected in about 10 years to come. The 2013 Primary Seven candidates were the first cohort of the revised primary curriculum. “The impact of the curriculum review will take some time given the challenges that the review has gone through. For now, though not much, there is an improvement,” Ms Kateeba said in an interview. “We needed a lot of money to do teacher training which wasn’t readily available, the attitude was very negative and there were no teaching materials.”

Too expensive

As a result, the curriculum for upper primary wasn’t majorly reviewed according to Ms Kateeba. It had become too expensive for the government to sustain. For instance, the curriculum experts had estimated that it would cost them Shs15 billion to buy text books for only one class. “It was so expensive. The upper primary was not majorly reviewed. Primary curriculum had been loaded. We did minimal changes; removed duplication, reduced content and introduced learner centred approach,” Ms Kateeba said.

A number of reports continue to show that majority of the pupils lack literacy and numeracy skills despite going through the revised curriculum. For example, a Uwezo, a non-governmental organisation dealing with child performance in schools last year released a 2012 report where 97 per cent of pupils from government schools failed to read a text book in English of Primary two level.

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