Experts criticized Uganda’s educational system, claiming it places an emphasis on assessment at all times.
According to education experts, Uganda’s existing education system at all levels is not meeting its intended goals. The experts are worried about the many tendencies in education that emphasize evaluation at all times rather than training students to be critical thinkers.
According to Dr Mary Goretti Nakabugo, executive director of UWEZO Uganda, the extended closure of schools due to Covid-19 has aggravated the problem.
“Our education system is basically unfit for purpose since it is failing to educate so many youngsters.” In other words, the curriculum are far ahead of the youngsters, and instructors have not done enough to assist them in acquiring core abilities at a young age,” Nakabugo said.
“If we argue that education is for everybody, are they [children] in school?” she said. Are the children in school before we speak about their learning reading, numeracy, and life skills? According to Uwezo data, around 74% of children’s enrollment in school has been delayed owing to the epidemic, and the odds of such youngsters continuing their education are slim.”
Nakabugo is one of the experts that spoke out digitally last week at the opening of a research project called Adapting Assessment into Policy and Learning: Adolescent 21st Century Skills at Makerere University.
The research program aims to increase adolescents’ acquisition of 21st-century abilities by improving the use of data from learning assessments in curriculum design, modification, and delivery.
A consortium of partners, including Makerere University’s College of Education and External Studies (CEES), the Global E-Schools Communities Initiative (Gesci), an international NGO based in Kenya, and the University of Notre Dame in the United States, is implementing the two-year project. It is being tested in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, and is being supported by the International Development Resource Center (IDRC) as part of the Global Partnership in Education (GPE).
According to Nakabugo, “even the vital 21st-century abilities that we are talking about will be difficult for them to gain unless they master the fundamentals of reading and numeracy.”
She highlighted Inter-University Council for East Africa survey data from 2014, which revealed that graduates lacked employability skills — technical competence and fundamental work-related capacities. Uganda had the greatest proportion of graduates who were unsuited for work in Africa, with Tanzania having 61 percent, Burundi having 55 percent, Rwanda having 52 percent, and Kenya having 51 percent.
“Seven years later, not much has changed in Uganda since the instructors and lecturers have stayed the same.” “We urgently need the Education Policy Review Commission to conduct a rigorous examination of these issues in order to bridge this gap,” she added.
Prof Anthony Mugagga, the head of CEES, concurred with Nakabugo that the existing evaluation is slanted toward rote learning.
“Learners provide responses based on recollection and are not required to think beyond the box.” “We can’t guarantee that everything will change tomorrow, but we will point out that there is an issue with our school system,” Mugagga added.
He did underline, however, that although teachers are critical thinkers, practice demands that evaluation takes precedence over professionalism.
“As much as we educate, there must be something lacking in institutions to assist instructors in delivering greater results in the classroom.” “We will engage with universities, other postsecondary institutions, secondary and elementary schools in the three nations to develop feasible solutions for the 21st-century student and teacher,” Mugagga added.
“We want instructors to evaluate for a reason, not only to provide tests and assign grades to pupils.”
According to Samuel Otieno, the project director for East Africa, the study will increase the use of data in creating evaluation systems rather than rewriting education systems in all three nations.
“Data in assessment is always accessible, but it is not generally shared to stakeholders.” “How can we make sense of the data and its consequences for the educational system?” Otieno inquired.
George Muteekanga, an assistant commissioner in the education ministry, advised the experts to collaborate closely with all national assessment agencies in the country on how to effectively evaluate learners in accordance with 21st-century capabilities.
Researchers intend to present their initial results by the end of April 2022 for distribution by policymakers, academics, and civil society.
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