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Training Tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack
Core Modules


Activity 1: A balance of national and local needs and interests

  1. A balance of national and local needs and interests

  2. Curriculum localization. Challenges and opportunities


Processes of curriculum change are increasingly shaped by the trend towards greater decentralization of educational management and governance. In order to reinforce the involvement and empowerment of local communities and their people, current trends promote decentralization of educational systems, in particular:

  • decision-making;
  • participation in educational policy making;
  • curriculum design and implementation.

A range of technical, educational and political rationales are most often advanced in justifying the need for decentralization. These include: managerial efficacy; enhanced quality and relevance of curriculum content to local cultural and economic realities; and increased legitimacy of curricula through greater stakeholder participation in policy formulation. In some cases, local empowerment may encourage teachers to redefine their roles as educational researchers and curriculum developers concerned with the specific needs of their own students. However, the quality of this work will depend on a number of factors including local capacity.

Levels of socio-economic development, cultural traditions, the type of political systems, the nature of national educational management systems and the structure of national curricula all have an important impact on the scope and process of consultation for curriculum policy change.

The nature and quality of educational management systems, in particular, is a key factor in determining the scope and the nature of decentralization of educational management and governance. Although differences remain in the degree of decentralization, many countries have decentralized some elements of their educational administration and management systems, most often at three levels: the national, the local (provincial), and the school levels.

A strong central government remains important particularly for the development of national curriculum frameworks, quality standards, indicators of school effectiveness, assessment and evaluation systems to ensure quality. These intersecting frameworks provide broad parameters within which education processes and products may be shaped to meet local needs and to secure the support and participation of civil society including parents and local community. Precisely for this reason, a strong, if transformed, centralized system can be efficient in addressing a very wide range of issues. Each context will have a particular balance between centralization and decentralization that is appropriate to particular needs.

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