KAMPALA –Uganda National Examinations Board-UNEB has finalised mechanisms that would enable schools to transmit learners’ assessments under the new lower secondary curriculum.
Unlike the old curriculum, which relied solely on the final Senior Four and Six examinations, the new O’Level curriculum was created to include classroom-based assessment throughout the four-year cycle – accounting for 20 per cent of the final national studies.
Although these school-based scores were meant to be submitted right from Senior One, this did not happen since the curriculum was launched in 2020 before most of the enabling mechanisms were not in place.
Jennifer Kalule Musamba -the UNEB spokesperson, revealed that effective from term I of the new academic year, schools would be transmitting the continuous assessment scores through the UNEB portal.
“The ICT department has been working on the system. It is now ready. Schools with access to our portal will be able to post those assessments,” said Kalule.
This particular portal has been in existence and schools have been using it to register candidates for national examinations, get results and transmit continuous assessment scores of selected subjects like the French language, Home Economics Fine Art, and others.
“It (the portal) was reconfigured by experts to handle more data and every learner’s scores will be sent regularly. The scores will be aggregated to inform the 20 per cent of the end-of-the-cycle result. 80 per cent will be from the national examination,” added Kasule.
It should be noted that not all schools have access to the portal given the fact that currently, only examination centres can access it. Kalule, however, said that the board was working on modalities to ensure that schools without centre numbers were also included into the system to enable them transmit data to the examinations body.
She said that the board was working with the National Curriculum Development Centre – NCDC and the Education Ministry to find out how this would be conducted. She further noted that soon the ministry and relevant agencies including UNEB will provide guidance to schools and parents on how the system will be handled.
She said that UNEB staff were undergoing training on how to manage this new evaluation as well as developing standardised instruments that schools would use to award marks. We learnt that the British Council in Uganda had bankrolled the said training.
Many teachers, parents, and students have been asking how the marks would be transferred to UNEB now that the assessment format was being implemented. Another major concern had rotated around how best a learner who transferred from one school to another would be handled.
Available information indicates that every learner will receive a computer-generated Learner Identification Number-LIN on their first registration on the system to help track their performance even if they change schools. The process of allocating these numbers is already underway.
A source from NCDC also informed said that pioneer students, (those who will be in S.3 in term one this year) will be assessed based on scores obtained in S.3 and S.4.
“Ideally, the curriculum requires that learners are assessed right from senior one. But, due to the disturbance we have gone through; Covid -19 disruptions, and the fact that the pioneers were automatically promoted we might not require their S.1 and S.2 scores but this has not been officially decided,” revealed the source.
As the transmission of scores to UNEB is soon beginning, there are concerns that some teachers lack the skills of carrying out the assessment – which Dr Grace Baguma, the NCDC director; acknowledged – saying the feedback had pointed towards that direction.
She however added that NCDC was committed to offering training to ensure that teachers in both private and public schools were equipped with the relevant skills.
“We are now providing training, and UNEB will soon join to assist us in making sure that teachers and head teachers are proficient in how these assessments are administered and scored. We recently experienced a financial crisis, which negatively impacted our programs but we think everything will be okay,” added Baguma.
Under the new curriculum, teachers are expected to grade students on a scale of three that is, one, two, and three in every topic or month. This is done to determine whether learners have grasped what they are taught in class and if not remedial activities are done before moving to the next topic.
Instead of having students wait to study for end-of-term exams, this evaluation technique focuses on making sure that students acquire the necessary competencies. The new system also aims to reduce the overreliance on final exam scores as a gauge of academic performance.
In recent interviews, curriculum developers at NCDC noted that they chose to provide a continuous assessment with a 20 per cent initial contribution just as a starting point with an intention of gradually expanding its end result contribution to 50 per cent.
The idea of having a continuous assessment is not new as it is being applied in many countries with strong education systems in Europe. In Uganda, it had been suggested way back in 1987 by Professor William Senteza Kajubi led Education Policy Review Commission and it was adopted in the 1992 Government White Paper.
However, its implementation at the primary and secondary levels was delayed due to the absence of enabling systems. In the mix was a question of integrity with many people worrying that this form of assessment could see teachers favour their learners or put them at a disadvantage for their benefit.
Adapted from URN