Quality of National Curriculum and Student Learning: The case of thematic curriculum in Uganda.
Simon, Kobia David
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A curriculum is essential for quality learning and relevance of education to a society’s development needs. In 2007, Uganda introduced thematic curriculum at P-1 to P-3 level, with the purpose of improving quality and relevance of learning outcomes. This paper assesses the effect of these reforms on learning among lower grade learners in Uganda and proceeds to make policy recommendations that could improve curriculum implementation in the country. A qualitative research approach was used targeting government practitioners across the education value chain, comprising of curriculum developers, examiners, primary school teacher college tutors, quality assurance officers, education administrators and primary school early grade teachers. Data was collected using 15 key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and analyses of documents on student performance. Results indicate that P-3 literacy improved from 10% in 2013 to 39.5% in 2021 while numeracy improved from 8% to 20.8% over the same period. Use of local language simplified concepts, non-textbook materials promoted incidental learning while CCT support improved teacher preparation and lesson planning. Diagnostic and continuous assessment revealed low performing areas for improved instructional design and planning. Thematic learning areas enabled learning integration with living experiences and class teacher system positively impacted affective learning due to bonding and familiarity between learners and the teacher. Implementation has had challenges of large classroom sizes, teacher capacity, adoption of local language and inelaborate implementation framework. This paper makes policy recommendations relating to teachers’ professional development, school-based curriculum implementation, language, content and methods of instruction, teaching and learning materials, performance assessment and an agenda for decolonizing education in Africa.