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New subjects policy spells doom for vocational education

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th September 2008 03:00 AM

THE education ministry recently sent a circular No. 20/2008, to all headteachers of public and Government-aided secondary schools on the new policy reform in the delivery of secondary education. The circular spells out policy on subject choice and teaching load at O and A’ Level. However, an analy

THE education ministry recently sent a circular No. 20/2008, to all headteachers of public and Government-aided secondary schools on the new policy reform in the delivery of secondary education. The circular spells out policy on subject choice and teaching load at O and A’ Level. However, an analy

By Vision reporter

THE education ministry recently sent a circular No. 20/2008, to all headteachers of public and Government-aided secondary schools on the new policy reform in the delivery of secondary education. The circular spells out policy on subject choice and teaching load at O and A’ Level. However, an analysis of the document spells doom for the education system in Uganda.

Contents:
The policy orders secondary schools to reduce teaching subjects to only 10, effective January 2009. Among these, Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography and History are compulsory. The rest of the subjects are grouped into categories from which each school selects only three (3) to make 10.

According to the categories, all practical and vocational subjects are disadvantaged and are technically thrown out of Uganda’s education system, because schools are selecting easy-to-finance subjects like CRE, Luganda and Fine Art. One wonders what became of the Education Service Review Commission (1990) and the Government White Paper (1991) recommendation of vocationalisation of our education, to the extent of restructuring secondary school arrangement into vocational, comprehensive and general secondary school categories. No other education review Report, since, has suggested otherwise on this curriculum issue.

Even the three electives will be allowed only a minimum of 2-3 periods per week. How much content can be covered at the end of four years with this time limitation?

Instead, the education ministry is ordering the reintroduction of Physical Education (PE) to make the eleventh compulsory subject in all schools. Having been abandoned and discarded a long time ago, PE has had no qualified teachers for the past 10 years.

On top of this, teaching time will be reduced to seven periods a day, which accounts for only 8:00am to l:00pm. The rest of the afternoon is recommended for individual study and co-curricular activities.

Which person who has lived in Uganda in the last 10 years can believe that adolescent secondary school students can do private study for a whole afternoon, everyday, for a week, given the increased level of academic laziness! Even tutorials in universities are no longer feasible for the same reason.

The recommended minimum teaching load of 24 periods per week per teacher suggests that even the teachers of the selected and compulsory subjects will have to be slashed, because under the circumstances, only two to four teachers per subject will suffice in a school. How feasible is this with classroom populations bursting at the seams?

Implications of the policy reform:
  • Many students will miss the exposure to practical and vocational subjects, from which many have been earning a living later in life.

  • Ugandan school products will be more elitist than they have ever been before.

  • More than half of secondary school teachers will lose jobs by January 2009, without a clear arrangement for formal retirement (early or due) or alternative employment.

  • A’ Level students (especially sciences) will be very limited in the scope of subject choices for their combinations, thus limiting their chances of entry into tertiary institutions.

  • Tertiary institutions will lose out on well-groomed entrants who would have received prior exposyre to these practical subjects at secondary level. This will mainly affect; Faculties of Agriculture, Departments of Food Science & Technology, Engineering, and Bachelor of Commerce, when vocational subjects like Agriculture, Foods and Nutrition, Technical Drawing, Metal work, Wood work, Electricity, Electronics, Entrepre-neurship, Accounts & Commerce as well as Computer studies are all thrown out of the school curriculum.


  • The result is that students taken up in these areas in tertiary institutions will lack prior experience, interest and motivation to perform in these courses competently, which will increase training time and costs. French and German having been eliminated from the curriculum, will curtail many professionals, especially in Medicine, Engineering and Science research in accessing and collaborating information.

    It is, therefore, vital that this policy be revisited and discussed by all stakeholders; Parliament, the ministry, echools, teachers and, most importantly, the public.

    New subjects policy spells doom for vocational education

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