Uganda: Govt Initiates ICT At A-Level

Computing

Starting next term, all students at A-level will be taught either information and communications technology (ICT) or mathematics. Grace Baguma, the deputy director of the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), made the announcement recently at a workshop on the 'Policy Dialogue on Pedagogical Integration of ICT in Uganda's Education System' at Makerere University. The dialogue was assessing the performance of the Pan-African Research Agenda for the Pedagogical Integration of ICT (PanAf) whose phase II closed last month.

Baguma said starting this year, all S.5 students will either take ICT or mathematics as a subsidiary subject. This means, Baguma said, all A-level students will henceforth do two subsidiary subjects. Currently, they take only one - General Paper.

"This is a directive from Cabinet and we have been told it's a must. We are working around the clock to be ready with the ICT syllabus for first term by January.

"We will then later formulate the syllabus for second and third term. Right now, there are some teachers undergoing training at Kololo; they will become trainers of trainers," Baguma said.

The idea is to make ICT compulsory. For the start, it will be optional because some schools do not have the necessary facilities. In addition, starting this term, students at A-level will sit for only three principal subjects down from four. Baguma explained that the four principal subjects had brought about a wide range of problems.

The ministry will also lower the number of subjects in lower secondary and empower teachers to integrate ICT skills in the learning process. The participants, however, had reservations about the cabinet directive, saying it is being hurried. Baguma conceded there would be hurdles: "I can foresee that most schools will have to opt for subsidiary mathematics for obvious reasons. ICT may become compulsory after three or so years."

Another query: Would ICT be delivered as a subject on its own or as a methodology? It was noted that there is no capacity to teach pedagogical ICT at A-level and if it is to be integrated as a teaching methodology, teachers would need regular refresher courses.

"The subsidiary ICT we are introducing will be functional; it will help you to learn to be employable," Baguma explained.

Dr Yusuf Nsubuga, the director of Basic and Secondary Education at the ministry told The Observer that several schools have acquired computer labs and got computers through the Uganda Communications Commission.

"In a resource-poor country like ours, you can't wait to be at 100% to start anything. Besides shortage of hardware, we know there are issues of connectivity. Our policy is building the boat as we sail," Nsubuga said.