Develop an understanding of:
The quality of learning experiences is an increasingly important element of the way in which curriculum is conceptualized. Quality of learning is now also recognized as a fundamental factor in achieving universal participation in education. The 6th goal at the Dakar World Education Forum in 2000 relating to quality states:
Improving all aspects of the quality of basic education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
The quality of education has thus come to be seen as directly related to the issue of access to education for all. While the concept of quality is understood in different ways, the 2005 Education For All (EFA) Monitoring Report identifies three principles that increasingly influence educational content and processes. They are summarized as the needs for:
In ensuring greater relevance of education, due attention is to be provided to the importance of context, whether global, national or local, and to the perspectives of learners and the various other stakeholders involved as what constitutes meaningful learning.
EFA goals imply both the realization of the right to basic education, as well as the respect of others social and cultural rights through the educational process. Rights-based approaches to education are increasingly informing approaches to educational quality. (See, for example, UNESCO Handbook to rights-based approach to education in the Asia Pacific region).
UNESCO has identified curriculum as one of the 10 dimensions of quality in education.
Processes of curriculum change are thus central to ensuring quality of school education. The term “curriculum change” is understood here as a generic term that covers processes of varying scale and scope depending on context (“curriculum renewal”, “curriculum reform”, “reframing of curriculum” etc…). In addition to ensuring relevance, greater equity of access and outcome, and the proper observance of rights in the educational process, curriculum change also aims to ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency of the educational process.
Contemporary curriculum change is, in most cases, a dynamic process that involves many people, often with different priorities, vested interests and needs. In practice, curriculum change often used to focus almost exclusively on curriculum documents without much involvement of the users and the learners. Consequently, it is important to understand recent international and regional trends in curriculum change in order to improve teaching and learning, and to be able to increase access and improve quality. An understanding of such trends helps to clarify the fundamental drivers of change or the rationales for change in each context.
A focus on the quality of education has significant implications for processes of curriculum change. Effective formulation of curriculum policy, curriculum design and implementation require an understanding of the learner, possible educational inputs and outcomes, and the wider societal context. The voice of learners is not often heard in the curriculum process. The priorities of politicians and parents can be very different from the priorities of teachers and employers. It can be argued that each of these groups has a legitimate interest in what is included in the curriculum and, most significantly, in its outputs. A thorough understanding of the education context and other related contexts will provide critical ‘signposts’ for the direction that the development process should take. These signposts may be useful as a starting point for the identification of standards which will help to ensure quality during the processes of curriculum development and implementation. There will also be indications of areas where capacity for change is lacking, or where opposition to the process may occur.
Curriculum reform, revision; renewal; curriculum process; rationales for change; access; quality; relevance; equity; rights; inclusion; international and regional trends; teaching and learning; educational curriculum standards, objective, aim, competence.