What’s new in schoolSome stakeholders argue that the government has changed the curriculum in haste
Umesh Raj Regmi
The Ministry of Education recently passed the National Curriculum Framework for secondary level education, changing the syllabus that has been used in Nepali schools for more than two decades. There will be a single track curriculum in Grades 11 to 12, and an integrated curriculum in Grades 1 to 3. Students awaiting the results of the Secondary Education Examination (SEE) will be the first to be taught the new curriculum in Grade 11 from this academic session.
Form and fabrication
As per the National Curriculum Framework, four subjects have been made compulsory in Grades 11 and 12. They are Nepali, English, Social Studies and skill-based or behavioural education. In addition, students will have to choose three other optional subjects out of four. There won’t be any specific faculties like in the past. The optional subjects will be from General, Science and Technology and Technical and Vocational bases.
Similarly, the new curriculum envisions three types of education for the secondary level: General, Sanskrit or Traditional, and Technical and Professional. The optional subjects and their bases in each of the types will be different. A majority of the students seem to study in the General type of education, however. The emphasis of the secondary level curriculum is on developing hard skills.
The syllabus has been designed under the credit hour system. Each period will be one hour long. The full marks in Grade 11 will be 700. In coordination with the local government, schools can pick optional subjects by considering student interest, need, teacher availability and resources. Grade 10 examinations will be conducted at the provincial level, and Grade 12 examinations will be conducted at the national level.
Some stakeholders argue that the government has changed the curriculum in haste without holding extensive consultations with them. There will be questions about school infrastructure, resources and the readiness of the students and teachers in implementing the curriculum. The little time available for printing textbooks, random preparation by schools to teach the new curriculum, uninformed guardians and exclusion of some important subjects like Mathematics and Economics are major challenges. Likewise, questions have been raised whether effective orientation has been given to the teachers and school management before the start of the new session.
How hard the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) is working internally is a matter of great importance. The objectives and pedagogy of the newly introduced subjects are still not well known to the teachers. Hidden selfish interests of some private publications and school promoters may pose a problem to the timely implementation of the syllabus. In particular, delivering textbooks to remote schools on time and teaching guidelines to the teachers and disseminating a clear picture of the changed course will be a tall order.
Things to do
The implementation of a new curriculum in a changing scenario is often provoking. Despite some difficulties initially, all stakeholders should be supportive. As this is linked to the future of the country, institutional and personal benefits should be pushed back for the implementation of new curriculum. The genuine voices of educators, school administrators and experts have to be addressed before the new academic session starts. The need and relevance of some excluded subjects should be re-examined. A national campaign to give information and updates about the changed curriculum should be launched without delay.
The CDC should seek help and advice from different experts besides the regular ones in its register. Priority should be given to remote areas in every programme of the government. The delivery of textbooks needs to be managed completely by local authorities. There needs to be proper coordination between the central, provincial and local bodies in the implementation of the new curriculum. The government should discourage the private interest of any publication, school or association for the best utilisation of the national curriculum. Attention should also be paid to the use of social media to disseminate information about the new curriculum and its basics.
The line ministry and the CDC should not delay to issue a public appeal to welcome the curriculum. International practices, the horizon of the courses and local needs of the subjects are to be kept under consideration. So, essential changes and improvements will have to be made in the curriculum to produce qualified manpower based on social justice as enshrined in the constitution and the country’s requirement and to provide education that is applicable to real life for all students. Better to take the curriculum as a chance rather than a problem. Let’s make the national curriculum student-friendly and a strong foundation of education in the days to come.
Regmi is associated with the Nepal Youth Foundation