Prof. Nyeko, a renowned veterinarian, and academic administrator says his recommendation is part of broader efforts to streamline the education system and alleviate the burden of national examinations on students.
Professor Nyeko Pen-Mogi
Professor Nyeko Pen-Mogi, former chairperson of the National Council for Higher Education-NCHE has proposed a significant educational reform, urging
the government to consolidate lower and upper secondary levels.
Prof. Nyeko, a renowned veterinarian, and academic
administrator says his recommendation is part of broader efforts to streamline
the education system and alleviate the burden of national examinations on
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Nyeko tabled the recommendations to the Education
Policy Review Commission on Thursday. Leveraging his considerable experience in
the field, which includes roles on the boards of NCHE and UNEB, as well as
serving as the inaugural Vice Chancellor of Gulu University, he raised
inquiries about the reasoning behind the division of secondary education into
two distinct levels.
Currently, secondary education is compartmentalized into
Ordinary Level (O'Level) spanning from S.1 to S.4 and Advanced Level covering
S.5 to S.6. Each level concludes with a national examination, namely the Uganda
Certificate of Education at S.4 and the Uganda Advanced Certificate of
Education at S.6.
At the Ordinary Level, students are expected to study
approximately 12 subjects from S.1 to S.2 and then narrow down their focus to
eight subjects, including seven compulsory ones and two electives of their
choice. Conversely, at the Advanced Level, learners specialize in either art or
sciences with a combination of four subjects and General paper.
Prof. Nyeko Pen-Mogi contends that the current education
system lacks a clear purpose, raising fundamental questions about the
capabilities of graduates at each level. He emphasized that the system has
deviated from its intended objectives, primarily due to its emphasis on
preparing students to pass national examinations, neglecting the essential
aspects of skills development and co-curricular activities.
In advocating for the merger of secondary levels, Prof.
Nyeko Pen-Mogi aims to redirect the focus of the education system towards
holistic development, fostering skills and competencies beyond exam-oriented
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Prof. Nyeko contended that in the event of merging secondary levels, it is
imperative to create a meticulously designed curriculum. This is to guarantee
that learners acquire not only essential life skills but also skills pertinent
to their chosen fields of work.
He also challenged the concept of early specialization in arts or science at
Emphasizing the need to eliminate this premature specialization,
he advocated for students to be exposed to a diverse array of subjects
throughout their secondary education.
According to Nyeko, removing the specialization in arts and science at this “early
stage” would empower students to make well-informed and comprehensive decisions
when choosing between arts and science upon entering Technical and Vocational
Education and Training (TVET) institutions or universities.
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Prof. Nyeko’s proposal stands out as a unique perspective,
diverging from previous suggestions made during the three-year existence of the
commission more so on the issue of education structure and national examinations.
Previous submissions from organizations such as Uwezo, an
organization known for researching the effectiveness and quality of
education, and the National Planning Authority hinted at the possibility of
eliminating the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), which is perceived as a
barrier preventing thousands of students from progressing to the secondary
An additional argument raised questioned the necessity of
the PLE, considering that from P.1 to S.4, this period is considered basic
education in the Ugandan education system. This raised concerns about the need
for an examination at the learning level.
During Prof. Nyeko’s submission, Commissioner Abenakyo Monde
asked him about his stance on scrapping the PLE, and Prof. Nyeko Pen-Mogi
acknowledged the rationale behind the suggestion.
“Those proposing this change aim to reduce the burden of
national examinations in the education system. I think they also have a point.
Now the commission should discuss the approach and make better recommendations
on what they believe would be a more effective solution,” said Prof. Nyeko.
On the education structure, the academician noted Uganda
should adopt a 3-7-6-3 format with three years of early childhood development,
seven for primary and six for secondary, and maintaining the three years for undergraduate degree but also 2 years for TVET to attain diplomas.
He added that education from nursery to secondary should
be compulsory but secondary learners can be given a window to join TVET
institutions at will even before completing the education cycle.
Currently, the primary education cycle spans 7 years,
followed by 4 years of lower secondary school, and 2 years of upper secondary
school. In 1992, the Government White Paper on education proposed a structural
change, advocating for eight years at the primary level (P.1 to P.8), a
reduction to three years at the O’ Level (S.1 to S.3), and two years at A
‘level (S.4 and S.5) before progressing to higher education institutions.
The White Paper aimed to extend the duration of primary
education, providing more time for learning vocational subjects introduced at
that level. However, 35 years later, the introduction of P.8 never
Before the professor's input, two other groups had made
compelling arguments for structural changes months ago. The Uganda National
Teachers’ Union (UNATU) proposed a structure comprising 2 years of pre-primary,
8 years of primary, 3 years of lower post-primary, and 2 years at Junior
College or Advanced Level before moving to higher learning institutions.
Another group, Uwezo, recommended reducing the primary years
from seven to six, asserting that the current cycle wastes time revising
previous courses. They suggested following Kenya's example, which recently
shortened its primary education structure from eight to six years. Uwezo
proposed adopting a similar approach and introducing mandatory 2 years of
Aside from discussions on the education structure and
examinations, the professor also emphasized the need for government
intervention to regulate what he referred to as "madness" occurring
in pre-primary school sections. According to him, the practices, including
early morning school hours and curriculum content, among other aspects, could
significantly affect learners at later stages.
"The practice of having children taken to school by
6:00 a.m. should be scrapped, and regulations should dictate where a parent
should enroll their child for nursery education. Pre-primary lessons should
commence at 9 a.m., allowing learners to be taken to school at 8 a.m. However,
it is essential that learners are enrolled in nearby schools to eliminate the
practice of ferrying these toddlers in buses and boda bodas," he
Additionally, he advocated for the criminalization of
boarding sections for pre-primary children. While acknowledging the challenges
some households may face, he insisted that there is no excuse for a parent to
have a pre-primary child in a boarding section.
Meanwhile, drawing on his extensive experience in higher education
administration, Nyeko also made a recommendation at that level, urging the
elimination of all pre-entry examinations for university courses and internship
programs. He noted that, based on his years of experience, these examinations
are not only highly corrupt but also deemed useless.
In his view, if the lower levels are effectively managed, and learners
acquire the necessary competencies, the need for these pre-entry examinations
would be unnecessary.
The Commission is currently conducting a public hearing, inviting various
individuals, entities, and organizations to share their perspectives. This
marks the initiation of the comprehensive overhaul of the entire education
system. The Ministry of Education is particularly focused on reviewing and
potentially revising policies related to curriculum, assessment, education
structure, teacher-related matters, and the management of private entities,
among other key aspects.