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PWDs want court to block new curriculum

By Michael Odeng

Added 25th April 2017 10:26 AM

PWDs want court to issue an injunction, restraining government from enforcing the decision to suspend subjects

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(L-R) Benson Nkwasibwe, Francis Kinubi, Jack Tumukwasibwe and Caleb Tumwiine pictured at court on Monday. Photo by Michael Odeng

PWDs want court to issue an injunction, restraining government from enforcing the decision to suspend subjects

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) have asked the High Court to block government from scrapping of 10 O’Level subjects, which they say favour them.

However, the court presided over by the civil court deputy registrar; Alex Ajiji on Monday deferred the hearing of an application for an injunction to Wednesday because both the Attorney General and National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) representatives were not in court.

Those present were representatives of National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) and Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB).    

PWDs want court to issue an injunction, restraining government from enforcing the decision to suspend the subjects and UNEB from registering UCE candidates this year, pending determination of the main case that could be rendered useless if the move does not stop.

"UNEB has already started registering Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) candidates for the 2017 intake and therefore we want to halt the process because it will affect the blind," NUDIPU legal officer Eric Namugalo said.

He said government's decision to suspend the subjects is discriminatory and violates PWDs right to education.

On March 20, 2017 seven PWDs dragged NCDC, UNEB and the AG to court through Benson Nkwasibwe.

The plaintiffs, who represent over 150 disabled students, are Justus Tukamuheebwa, Denis Kaalalagho, Susan Nakayolo, Martha Nalwadda, Madrine Namaganda, Peace Nanume and Abraham Mukundane.

In 2008, the education ministry and NCDC forwarded a circular to all heads of UCE centres, stating that it would suspend 10 subjects, citing the need to reform the national curriculum for O' Level students.

The circular indicated that UNEB would stop examining the 10 subjects in 2016.

The subjects included Kiswahili, political education, additional mathematics, general science, health education, electricity and electronics, power and energy, short hand, type writing and office practice.

According to Jack Tumukwasibwe, 42, a student of Uganda National Association for the Blind, subjects such as general and health science helps them acquire basic knowledge and education in science-oriented subjects and so scrapping the subjects puts them at a disadvantage.   

This, he said is because they cannot participate in the mainstream science subjects such as physics, biology, and chemistry that are practical, yet they are unable to see or rely mostly on their hands.

"With the suspension of the subjects, we shall only have seven subjects at UCE. This is below the minimum number of subjects required by the government through its examination grading policy," Tumukwasibwe said. 

The students say that since they are visually impaired learners, they are in a precarious situation of not qualifying for UCE.

Nkwasibwe says the government's national policy on disabilities emphasised the improvement of the quality of lives of PWDs through expanded scope of interventions by empowering them in designing, managing, monitoring and evaluating initiatives.          

The students are also seeking a court order compelling government to make available the teaching syllabus for health and general science, office practice and political education until alternative subjects are created.

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