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Training Tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack
Core Modules



Activity 1: Change to improve quality

  1. Change to improve quality

  2. International trends in curriculum change

  3. Curriculum as process and product


Quality in education is understood in different ways. This activity offers a framework for consideration of current local and international understandings of quality in education, for investigation of the challenges posed for your context and possible means of addressing them.

The quality of learning is now clearly recognized as a fundamental factor in achieving universal participation in education. The sixth goal of the Dakar Framework for Action (2000) states the need for:

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. UNESCO has identified curriculum as one of the ten dimensions of quality in education1. While the concept of quality is understood in different ways, the 2005 Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report2 identifies three principles that increasingly influence educational content and processes. They are summarized as the needs for:

  • More relevance;
  • Greater equity of access and outcome;
  • Proper observance of individual rights.

Relevance is determined by context (global, national and local circumstances in which the curriculum is developed), and addresses the needs of learners and the various other stakeholders involved in what constitutes meaningful learning.
In general terms, curriculum defines what is to be taught and learned. Curriculum developers should make judgments about curriculum relevance by considering:

  • The present and future personal lives of students;
  • The cultural and social context in which students live, including respect for traditions, language, religion and values;
  • The society, with a view to promoting internal stability and cohesion, as well as its contribution to global well-being;
  • The economy which demands skills and knowledge that will enhance productivity, prosperity and opportunity;
  • A range of urgent global concerns, including health related issues (such as the spread of HIV and AIDS and other pandemics), conflict resolution and environmental sustainability.

The EFA goals also implicitly require both:

  • The realization of the right to basic education for all people, and
  • Respect for the social and cultural rights of others through education.

Curriculum developers should be aware that rights-based approaches to education are increasingly informing how educational quality is defined and measured. Ensuring gender sensitivity and responsiveness and respect for minorities in the educational process are essential components of such approaches.

1 Pigozzi, M.J. (2004) “The Ministerial Viewpoint on ‘Quality Education’”. Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education, vol. 34, n° 2, June 2004.
2 UNESCO (2005) Education for All. The Quality Imperative. EFA Global Monitoring Report 2005. Paris, UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001373/137333e.pdf.

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