Why We Are, Our Background
- Category: About Us
- Published: Saturday, 02 May 2015 04:48
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The National Context and USEP’s Response
Despite the GOU doubled efforts through the Ministry of Education & Sports (MOES) for increased enrolment to attain universal secondary education, student enrolment in science and technology at both private and public universities lags at less than 27% (2006) which is below the minimum requirement of 40% registration in Science and Technology for a country to economically take off and participate in the global knowledge-based economy.
Enrolment in sciences at the upper secondary school level is about 20% of the total enrolment and this is due to high failure rates in sciences at O’ Level. Furthermore, some of those students that perform well in sciences are not interested in pursuing sciences. Science performance by students in rural areas is worse than that of their counterparts in urban areas. According to Womakuyu (2009), 50% of the students in urban schools passed sciences while 80% of their rural counterparts had low grades or failed sciences altogether. Urban schools balanced their performance in both arts and science subjects, but these represented about 20% of the schools countrywide that sat UACE in 2007.
Overall, schools outside the central region posted better grades in the arts subjects, with about 80% failing sciences. Schools in rural areas have inadequate teachers of science both in quality and numbers, equipment, exposure, and some of them get to handle laboratory glassware for the first time during their final national examinations.
Although Government policy interventions have since led to increased enrolments at all levels of education, major leakages occur along the education pipeline. Science education is also challenged by infrastructure inadequacies, few and poorly motivated teachers and an examination-focused curriculum that is devoid of innovation. As a result, consistently poor performance has been recorded in science subjects over the years, especially in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, which are highly practical.
The Uganda Science Education Program is a Secondary School Science learning and teaching improvement program; an action that began operations as a PILOT in the last quarter of 2009. It was started as an intervention by two Catholic religious congregations - the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and the Brothers of Christian Instruction together with development Partners from the Netherlands and other educationists in Uganda. The Programme is run under Kisubi Brothers University College (KBUC), a constituent college of Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi. USEP hence periodically benefits from the academic resources, research and training of the KBUC to improve its methodologies to enhance the quality of learning and teaching of sciences in secondary schools.
USEP’s purpose is to improve the quality of learning and teaching of science in secondary schools in Uganda. USEP’s Dimensions of Quality in the learning and teaching of Science is focused on actions that improve quality of learning and teaching of sciences. To USEP, the quality of learner outcomes relates to students’ learning environment, their progress in subject-specific areas and final achievement/attainment of science subject objectives with different dimensions as here below delineated:
The Quality of Teachers’ Practice.
This takes four forms thus:
- Lesson preparation for effective teaching (delivery) - how prepared teachers are for teaching subjects and lessons they conduct.
- Teaching methods – the effectiveness of the teaching approaches used in classroom instruction and in other learning settings in school.
- Management of students – the nature of teacher-student interactions and how learners are managed and organized during learning activities.
- Assessment – the effectiveness of continuous assessment school policy and practices in terms of how they contribute to Assessment for Learning (AfL) and Assessment of Learning (AoL).
The quality of students’ learning experiences.
Students’ learning environment i.e. the quality of the physical setting in which science learning and teaching takes place
Students’ engagement i.e. the students’ learning experiences in terms of the range and suitability of the curriculum; and the students’ experiences in the course of their learning (skills gained).
Student’s learning to learn i.e. how students’ learning skills are developed and how the schools equip students with the tools and skills needed for learning now and into the future.
The quality of learner outcomes. This concerns the attainment of subject objectives – meaning the students’ learning and achievements and their progress in subject-specific learning areas.
USEP’s originally set Objectives
- To promote and enhance lifelong professional and personal development Teachers of Science, Academic Managers and Laboratory Staff in secondary schools
- To institutionalize Science education standards for improving academic performance in secondary schools
- To promote and or enhance learner competences in understanding and application of scientific concepts and knowledge in secondary schools for self‐reliance
- To promote functional ICT integration and pedagogy for science education in secondary schools
- To cause positive attitudinal and behavioral change for Science Education - a paradigm shift towards sciences in secondary schools
- To promote research in science education in the supported secondary schools