Dear Ministry of Education

📌 An open letter to ministry of Education

Dear NCDC and Ministry of Education.

I trust you are all doing well.

My name is Shamim Nirere , a passionate and transformational teacher with roughly 8 years of practice since I left school of Education at Makerere University and above all, one of the biggest cheer-leaders of the new O level curriculum.

When the new curriculum was rolled out early 2020, I was among the many people who welcomed it and I explained to whoever cared to listen that this curriculum was one of the best things to ever happen to our country’s education.

I was however disturbed by the fact that all vocational subjects were made optional , something I will get back to later.

For the last five years, I have invested my time in learning about the 21st century classroom and the 21st century teacher in Africa who is educating children for the global world.

That is cushioned by the fact that I am a passionate educator, who chose Education as a 19 year old freshman in 2010 and would still choose Education today as a 29 year old, even amidst many options.

This letter therefore comes from a good place and at this point, allow me to focus on the reason I’m writing to you.

We have a great curriculum upon us, whose implementation we must take care not to ruin.

I have therefore written to request you to review the clause which makes all vocational subjects optional, because my conviction is that every learner must study atleast one mandatory vocational subject.

This means that at the end of form two, they would be ready to sit for the National Certificate from UBTEB, at which point they could choose to study the vocational subject for two more years and pursue an advanced UBTEB certificate at the end of their form 4.

Not only would they complete “O” level but they would also have an equivalent of an advanced (diploma) UBTEB Certificate as well as important vocational skills.

Beyond that, one may choose to either advance their skill to a degree level or head to “A” level.

We find ourselves at the heart of a gig economy and if it is to grow bigger, our children can’t afford the luxury of choosing between vocational and “normal” secondary Education.
We can blend both because having a skill up one’s sleeve doesn’t hurt at all!

Nyaka secondary school in Kanungu is doing it!

Namugongo vocational secondary school is doing it!

I’m sure many other schools are doing it and every school can do it.

The assumption that Vocational Education is for those from humble families and those who are not book smart , has no place in the 21st century.

For the modern parent who thinks that Vocational Education isn’t cool, well,
Graphic Design is a vocational skill, coding is a skill, photography is a skill, video editing is a skill and the list is endless.

Most schools have fully equipped computer labs and that’s a good starting point. Moreover even skills such as fashion and design, electrical installation, plumbing, building & construction are not any less cool.

A 12 year old child who is in form one today, will be 22 in 2030… competing with a 22 year old Asian who is a gigstar at Fiverr and will be taking most of jobs from Uganda and Africa.

We are in a global economy and we must measure up or sink.
We need our children to be competent in relevant skills.

We keep saying that we need to create job creators other than job seekers. This is the time for us to stop the lip service and get to work . Such excuses as Vocational Education is complex and expensive must be dropped because parents are already spending a lot of money to offer their children an Education decorated with a lot of non essentials.

For a start, such resources must be diverted to essentials. It is all possible with the will of every stakeholder.

One more thing dear NCDC, we appreciate the time set aside for children to do private work beyond 2.30pm at school in the new curriculum.

Kindly come out and seriously implement reading time and find a way of realising reading as a learning outcome.

We need a new breed of readers and competent communicators.

Literature in English and in our indigenous languages, is Paramount in developing language use which is an essential tool in the gig economy.

We are in a time of digital storytelling. Even that scientist will need to communicate to the world and tell his/her story.

We need this skill nurtured early!

One more thing dear NCDC and Ministry of Education, please invest in empowering the teachers and getting their buy in.

Teachers are the biggest stakeholders in Education. You need them to appreciate the gold that is our new curriculum.

This will only be achieved by appreciating them and empowering them with knowledge about the future of work and how school should look like in 2020.

This gospel should be spread upto the deepest village in Uganda. However , you can’t teach a hungry person.

Once again, I appreciate the tremendous work you are doing to transform our Education.

We are rooting for you and we believe you will make Uganda proud.

I heard that this curriculum was a
9-year-old pregnancy that was finally birthed in 2020.

We can’t allow our baby to be a stunted child!

Shamim Nirere

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