Detoxing misconceptions on new curriculum

Chaka Damba
I write to respond and express my observations and views on Itai Kurebwa and Thomas Gatsi’s article titled Praxis, outcomes for a sound curriculum in The Sunday Mail of April 30, 2017.

As a keen follower of national education development programmes, and in particular the new curriculum’s implementation, I thoroughly read through their presentation and noted that they raised critical issues that require further clarification and urgent correction.

I really appreciate their reference to Socrates Praxis and Practices as a fundamental basis for producing a sound curriculum that positively responds to the current socio-economic needs and 21st Century global skills-se  expectations.

The pair further drew a simplified reading of Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy (1956) that identified three domains in educational and training activities. The three domains are meant to guide effective learning from subject knowledge to applying the same through practical skills.

But Messrs Kurebwa and Gatsi revealed serious gaps when they wrote:

“. . . right now, the curriculum is on trial in primary and secondary schools without much input from the sectors that will implement this syllabus-the teacher training colleges and universities.”

The pair went further to claim that the input from the Department of Psychomotor, as follows:

“… most of the subjects are more content than before with very little and sometimes no praxis involved and this has been a disappointment to most parents and hence the resistance.”

Let’s unpack these citations.
The first suggests that the updated curriculum will be implemented by colleges and universities. Any high school student will tell, a primary and secondary curriculum is implemented in the primary and secondary education system. If it is, indeed, to suggest who did and have not participated, this pair should consult the curriculum documents namely:

Narrative Report 2015 .Website sources that clearly demonstrate the involvement of the above sector.

As to the claim that the subject are more content than before . This pair needs orientation. The curriculum framework (2015-2022) has shifted from focus on subject to focus on learning area. I am persuaded to say that the public relations office at the Ministry will not only give this pair a copy of the framework but also a copy of the 1999 CIET Report.

By the way, the curriculum is not on trial nor do we talk of implementing a syllabus, but in Phase 2 of implementation.

And then there are some high sounding nothing in the claims to no praxis involved. The framework 2015-2022 has introduced, in Phase 2, continuous assessment based on task setting arrangement within each learning area and has introduced the School Annual Science Sport Festival series.

If one is sincere and tracks the development trajectory of the new curriculum of primary and secondary education right from its conception, it is evident that the Ministry prioritised stakeholder engagement and consultations as a key guide to all its operations.

Besides the wide consultations that were carried out through the 1998/9 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training and they made recommendations, the Ministry carried out a nationwide stakeholder engagement that updated the 1999 CIET recommendations.

Key among stakeholders are the parents, schools, industry and commerce, institutes of higher learning through the Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Development Ministry, NGOs, Government ministries and the general public.

For a good read from which I benefit, consult the Narrative Report 2015.

One of the key priorities among the findings from the stakeholder consultations was the need to focus on competence and skills rather than content based approach to education.

The ministry, fully aware that the teacher is at the epi-centre of successful curriculum implementation, introduced teacher capacity development programme in 2014. It is now common knowledge that the Ministry, working together with sister Ministries, have embarked on teacher development and professional skills upgrading.

It should be appreciated that during the syllabi development, all stakeholders from Higher and Tertiary Institutions, Ministry of State for Liaison on Psychomotor Activities and other key ministries participated in that critical development exercise.

In my opinion, I think as a nation it is high time we engage a pro-development and positive mindset towards national fundamentals such as education and industry.
Let us aim to build together.

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