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Training Tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack
Core Modules

 

 
  1. A balance of national and local needs and interests

  2. Curriculum localization. Challenges and opportunities

 

This module offers opportunities for curriculum professionals to develop their understanding of policies and processes of system management and governance by exploring:

  • Possible models for managing curriculum development and implementation with particular attention to processes of curriculum localization;
  • Some modalities of regulation and control in education systems:
    • keeping balance between centralization and decentralization,
    • school-based management of the curriculum,
    • localization of curriculum in national and local specific contexts in view of ensuring greater responsiveness to local needs and realities,
    • different concepts of decentralization: devolution, de-concentration, decentralization of decision-making;
  • Opportunities and challenges of the broader involvement of stakeholders (local government, civil society, parents and local community) in curriculum development and implementation.

Two activities have been selected:

  1. A balance of national and local needs and interests. Helps in reflecting the set of needs and interests of different scale that have to be balanced to achieve an acceptable implementation of the curriculum.
  2. Curriculum localization. Challenges and opportunities. Leads to reflection about the constraints that limit and also enable localization processes.
    Following these activities is a “Resources” section which contains a list of discussion papers and other resources referred to in the activities, as well as complementary reading material.

Conceptual framework
Education systems are multi-faceted and consist of a number of inter-connected elements. Curriculum is a fundamental component of any education system, but its development and implementation relies on other components of the broader system – such as teacher training, the resources provided and the ways teachers are supervised. The structures of education management and governance and the quality of related systems can therefore influence the quality of the curriculum that is developed and the effectiveness of its implementation.

Curriculum development and implementation themselves are processes which require good management – planning, monitoring and evaluation. At the subject or learning area level, writing syllabuses is normally the domain of subject experts who can be drawn from universities, schools or other organizations relevant to the subject area itself. Their work can be informed by a range of other experts, such as developmental psychologists, parents, practicing teachers and, in some cases, representatives of employer groups or industry.

The syllabus writing process, however, also needs to be coordinated and managed so that the various subject syllabuses remain consistent in approach and philosophy. Syllabuses should reflect the same beliefs about how students learn and about teaching methodologies. They should be similar in format and tone and use terms consistently so that teachers of more than one subject can easily access the information and guidance which the syllabuses offer.

Therefore, what are the best ways to manage these complex processes?

System Management
System Management may be defined as the process of planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the various parts of a system. In education, these parts can include strategic and operational planning, human and financial resources, teacher education and accreditation, curriculum and student assessment.

Traditionally curriculum has been centrally determined and the expectation of central authorities is that students across the system will be taught the same thing the same way and often at the same time. While this approach might give the perception of control over the quality of teaching, it does not guarantee that the needs of individual students and of local communities are met.

Governance
The concept of governance refers to the ethics of an organization and the professional conduct of its employees. Good governance is important in education systems because it ensures that systems focus on delivering what is best for students and society.

There has therefore been a trend in curriculum development to more genuinely acknowledge the social and economic needs of local communities and individual groups within society by decentralizing curriculum, in effect by allowing local authorities and schools to develop their own curriculum. This approach also has its risks, particularly in the degree to which:

  • the quality of curriculum can be guaranteed,
  • the risk of “factionalism” can be reduced, and
  • national goals and priorities will be pursued in a consistent way.

If these risks are managed well, decentralization of curriculum development can offer many benefits. For example, it can increase the democratization of education by granting local stakeholders greater autonomy and participation in curriculum design, implementation and evaluation consistent with the achievement of national goals and standards.

Decentralization
Decentralization in education is the transfer of authority to regional, provincial and local levels. The interdependencies of related educational organizations cannot be simplified into a hierarchical structure or "solved" via a "top-down" approach.

The diverse modalities of decentralization may include:

  • the devolution of power and authority from a higher to a lower level,
  • wider sharing of educational management and governance functions,
  • broader participation in decision making processes, or
  • increased local autonomy in limited policy or management issues.

In some cases this trend has led to significant change in the bureaucratic structure of ministries of education. For example, decentralization may mean the devolution of administration and implementation functions from central to regional, provincial or local levels (administrative de-concentration).

The remainder of this section focuses on decentralization as a contemporary trend in system management and governance, particularly in relation to curriculum processes. Decentralization has the potential to foster the development of localized curricula which directly address a diversity of local (sub-national) cultural and socio-economic realities. The final section explores opportunities, issues and challenges presented by decentralization and localization of curricula through individual case studies.

Key-words
Curriculum for Special Cultural Communities, Decentralization, Devolution of Power, Educational Management, Empowerment, Governance, Local Capacity Building, Localization of Curriculum, Participation, Curriculum Relevance.