Proposal to Merge Lower and Upper Secondary Levels for Educational Reform

State education minister Crispus Muyingo
State education minister Crispus Muyingo | FILE PHOTO
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Professor Nyeko Pen-Mogi, former chairperson of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), has put forward a noteworthy suggestion for a substantial educational reform. He recommends the consolidation of lower and upper secondary levels as part of a broader initiative to streamline the education system and ease the examination burden on students.

Presenting his recommendations to the Education Policy Review Commission, Prof. Nyeko, a distinguished veterinarian and academic administrator, questioned the current division of secondary education into Ordinary Level (O’Level) from S.1 to S.4 and Advanced Level covering S.5 to S.6. He emphasized the need for a comprehensive examination of the rationale behind this division.

Currently, students at the Ordinary Level study around 12 subjects from S.1 to S.2, narrowing down to eight subjects, including seven compulsory ones and two electives of their choice. At the Advanced Level, learners specialize in either arts or sciences with a combination of four subjects and General paper.

Prof. Nyeko contends that the current education system lacks a clear purpose, primarily focusing on preparing students for national examinations at the expense of essential skill development and co-curricular activities.

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Advocating for the merger of secondary levels, Prof. Nyeko aims to redirect the education system’s focus toward holistic development, fostering skills and competencies beyond exam-oriented success. He stressed the need for a meticulously designed curriculum to ensure learners acquire life skills and relevant field-specific competencies.

Additionally, Prof. Nyeko challenged the concept of early specialization in arts or science at the Advanced Level, suggesting that students should be exposed to a diverse array of subjects throughout their secondary education.

Responding to questions about the possible elimination of the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), Prof. Nyeko acknowledged the rationale behind the suggestion, emphasizing the need for the Commission to discuss and recommend effective solutions.

Proposing a 3-7-6-3 education format, Prof. Nyeko suggested three years of early childhood development, seven for primary, six for secondary, and maintaining three years for undergraduate degrees, with an additional two years for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to attain diplomas.

Regarding compulsory education, he recommended that nursery to secondary education should be mandatory, but secondary learners could have the option to join TVET institutions before completing the entire education cycle.

In addition to structural changes, Prof. Nyeko urged government intervention to regulate practices in pre-primary school sections, emphasizing the need to eliminate early morning school hours and dictate enrollment locations to ensure proximity.

Drawing on his higher education administration experience, Prof. Nyeko recommended the elimination of all pre-entry examinations for university courses and internship programs, asserting that effective management at lower levels would render these examinations unnecessary.

The Education Policy Review Commission is currently conducting a public hearing, seeking input from various individuals, entities, and organizations to facilitate a comprehensive overhaul of the education system. The Ministry of Education is particularly focused on reviewing and potentially revising policies related to curriculum, assessment, education structure, teacher-related matters, and the management of private entities.

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