Curriculum

There are distinct differences in curriculum between the United States and Ugandan curriculum, but there are also fundamental similarities. The incorporation of religion into schools is obvious in federally run school names, such as schools named St. Paul Lubanyi and St. Jude (Ministry of Education and Sports, 2011). This inclusion of religion is not in name only as it is a part of the curriculum. In addition there are differences between the approach to standards and to the end goal of having all students by graduation be fluent in English. Similarities between Uganda and the United States include how curriculum is structured, and teaching students with the goal of in-depth comprehension.

One large difference between United States curriculum and the Ugandan curriculum is the inclusion in Uganda of religion. In the United States, there is a clear separation of church and state. In the Connecticut, beginning in kindergarten students as part of the social studies curriculum may identify their religion as a part of their self and family culture. In third grade, they look at how religion has affected the settlement of people in their communities. They also explain the characteristics that “define an ethnic group”, one of which is religion (Connecticut State Department of Education (Social Studies), p. 24). By seventh grade students are looking into how religion impacted migration patterns such as the crusades and the founding of Israel. In high school, students look at the “impact of major belief systems on societies and nations”, including religion (Connecticut State Department of Education (Science), p. 53). While all of these topics include religion as a part of the curriculum as religion has played a large role in history, it is not the teaching of religious doctrines and practices.

In Uganda, religion is explicitly taught as a part of the curriculum. The teaching of religion is in “line with the recommendations of the 1992 Government White Paper which call for the teaching of value oriented subjects” (Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre, 2008, p. 7). A committee of Catholics and Protestants came together and created the Christian Religious Education Teaching Syllabus. The syllabus is based around the goal to “make St. Luke’s Gospel relevant for Africans today” (Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre, 2008, p. 7). More specifically, this syllabus includes the teaching of “St Luke’s Gospel for Africa Today, The Old Testament, The Early church: Its growth and extension, The Church in East Africa and African Religious Heritage” (Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre, 2008, p. 12). One of the units of study for teacher candidates is the Bible so they can “analyze and understand God’s message as revealed in the bible and consequently be a model for your pupils and other members of society to follow” (Handbook, pg. 89). In addition to the Christian religion, there is also an Islamic Teaching Syllabus. The goal of this syllabus is to streamline the “Islamic religious education…provided in the ungazetted Quran schools across the country” (IRE TS, p. 7). The Islam curriculum covered includes “the beginnings of Islam and the evolution and expansion of the Muslim community into Uganda, to the beliefs and practices of Islam and the bases of Islamic morality” (Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre, 2008, p. 7).

Another difference is in how fluency in English is achieved. In Uganda, from P1-3, students are taught in their native language. During P4, there is a transition from the native language to English and by P5, students are expected to speak English and are taught in English. In the United States, the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, it states it does not feel that these standards are the place for “defin[ing] the full range of supports appropriate for English language learners.” It does emphasize that “all students must have the opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards if they are to access the knowledge and skills necessary in their post–high school lives” (Common Core State Standard Initiative (ELA), 2010, p. 6).

In the P1-P3 thematic curriculum, unlike in the United States, there are no standards. Instead they use a competence based approach. This decision was based on the belief that “objectives refer more to the teaching process rather than the learning process” (Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre, 2006, p. 8).

The curriculum structure in Uganda and the United States is similar. In Uganda, a thematic curriculum is used up through Primary Three. The thematic curriculum consists of strands: “News, Mathematics, Literacy Hour (Literacy 1 and Literacy 2), English, Creative Performing Arts (Music, Art and Crafts) Physical Education, Religious Education (IRE and CRE) and Free Activity”(Ministry of Education and Sport, 2010, pg. 20). During Primary Four, Uganda use this year as a transition between the thematic curriculum and the subject based curriculum. Curriculum taught includes “English, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies, Religious Education (IRE, CRE), and CAPE (Music, Physical Education and Art and Crafts)” (Ministry of Education and Sport, 2010, pg. 20). In the upper primary curriculum, in Primary Five through Seven, the primary four subjects are taught as well as Kiswahili, a Ugandan language and culture. This is similar to the United States where although separate subjects are taught in younger grades there is much overlap and cross-curricula lessons are encouraged. While this are also encouraged in older grades, in the United States there tends to be more an focus in the secondary level on the subjects as separate entities.

A similarity between the United States curriculum and Ugandan curriculum include the focus on having students fully comprehend the information, not just rote memorization and restatement of information. In Uganda’s previous primary curriculum before changing it to thematic, there was an ineffective focus on “acquisition of facts” and “recall and other low order cognitive skills.” The new thematic curriculum used “assessment techniques that aimed at grading learners rather than discovering variety in talents to be nurtured and weaknesses to be remedied” (Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre, 2008, p. 4). In Connecticut’s curriculum, words that are geared towards students building higher order thinking skills include “design and conduct”, “Analyze, critique and communicate”, “Interpret”, and “construct” reflecting similar ambitions for student learning and growth as in Uganda (Connecticut State Department of Education (Science), 2011, p. 32; Common Core State Standard Initiative (Mathematics), 2010, p. 71).

Similarities in between Uganda and the United States curriculum include the structure of the curriculum and the end goal of deep comprehension for all learners. Differences include the inclusion of religion as an explicitly taught subject in Uganda, teaching in the native tongue for the beginning years, and using a competence based approach instead of standards in Uganda.

 

 

References:

Common Core State Standard Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf.

Common Core State Standard Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Math%20Standards.pdf.

Connecticut State Department of Education. (2011). Connecticut Prekindergarten – grade 8 curriculum standards and assessment expectations science. Retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/curriculum/science/pk8_science_curriculumstandards2011.pdf.

Connecticut State Department of Education. (2011). Connecticut Social Studies Framework Grades PK-12. Retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/curriculum/socialstudies/CT_Social_Studies_Curriculum_Framework_2011.pdf.

Ministry of Education and Sport. (2010). Institutionalising Continuous Assessment In Primary Teacher Education. Retrieved from http://www.education.go.ug/HANDBOOKnew.pdf

Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre. (2008). Islamic Religious Education Teaching Syllabus. Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.go.ug/O%20level/St.%20Luke.pdf

Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre. (2006). Primary School Curriculum: Primary 2. Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.go.ug/P2%20materials/P2%20Thematic%20Curriculum.pdf

Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre. (2008). Primary School Curriculum: Primary 3. Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.go.ug/P3%20Thematic%20Curriculum.pdf

Ministry of Education and Sport: National Curriculum Development Centre. (2008). Christian Religious Education Teaching Syllabus. Retrieved from http://www.ncdc.go.ug/O%20level/St.%20Luke.pdf

Ministry of Education and Sports. (2011). Primary Schools. Retrieved from

http://www.education.go.ug/emis-statistics/emis-statistics.html

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