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27.02.2021 Feature Article

Determinants Of Curriculum Development; Stakeholders Involved

Curriculum Development.
LISTEN FEB 27, 2021
Curriculum Development.

Over the last two centuries, formalized education has become indispensable to society. No more is learning at the 'Mother's knee' or apprenticeship in the father's trade deemed sufficient. The school has to hand down certain skills to all children. Over and above this, modem society placed many of the responsibilities, previously dealt with in the family, at the school. Instead of being the narrow dispenser of skills, the school has the responsibility of developing the minds and bodies of its pupils. It, therefore, has to devise the correct activities while imparting skills, so that its pupils may benefit totally from their education. The curriculum is often used when education comes under discussion. It sometimes varies from one person to the other depending on the angle, orientation and disposition from which education is viewed. According to Marsh and Willis (2003), the most common definition is derived from the Latin word "Currere" means "racecourse", They asserted this because, among many students, the school curriculum is a race to be run, a series of obstacle4s to be passed. Hence the above made it difficult in defining the term curriculum. The following are some definitions given by some scholars and people; According to McGinn and Borden, (1995), a curriculum can be defined by teachers as the skills that students should learn, established by the state or developed by a committee. Furniss, (1999), Curriculum simply is a way of talking about what we want students to learn. From the above, curriculum can be defined as all the learner's experiences in or outside that are included in a program which has been devised to help him develop physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and morally". And as well define curriculum development as the process of selecting, organizing, executing, and evaluating learning experiences based on the needs, abilities and interests of the learners and the nature of the society or community. Given this, the determinants of the curriculum and their roles in curriculum development make up this write- up.

To begin with, the curriculum is a heavily contested space and to ask what its determinants are is to be mired into the 'politics' of curriculum design, implementation, evaluation and analysis. In view of this curriculum determinant are seen are those who come together to make decisions as to what should be involved in a curriculum and helps in the development, implementation and evaluation of the curriculum. I submit here the determinants in two ways or sections, the external and internal determinants of curriculum. The external determinants of the curriculum are; government policy, societal considerations, financial priorities and constraints, Philosophy education and Examination bodies. Internal determinants of the curriculum are, learners, teachers, cross-cultural factors, existing curriculum and institutional context.

Regarding government policy, education is today largely paid for and almost entirely administered by the government of the country is the body that decides what should be taught and hence builds its education system with great participation of national academic subject groups selected. The government provides high-quality education to the learners and recruit, train and supports teachers in the teaching and learning process when the curriculum is being developed by way of helping the teachers to implement the said curriculum in various schools’ payment of salaries and awarding as well as motivating teachers and learners). Hence, with the above expiations, the government policy becomes one of the determinants of the curriculum. For example, it decides what classes have to be taken to graduate. One of the major things that the state government does is to set a policy to guide schools. To fulfil those roles, the state government often sets statewide curriculum and standards. In America, public education, or free schooling that is open to the public, is regulated by three different government entities. The federal government offers little input into schools, though it provides funding that they can put strings on. On the opposite end, the local government offers a lot of input and deals with specific day-to-day teaching decisions in a small, local area. And somewhere in the middle, the state government offers some input and helps guide education in each state.

Again, societal consideration is also one of the external determinants of the curriculum in the sense that society is the means through which the curriculum is aid at solving issues or menace faced by the country hence, the society becomes a determinant in the sense that it attests to whether the said curriculum will benefit its members as well serve as a yardstick in solving its problems. Normally the society (state) does not construct directly construct curriculum but it puts forth the policies for different sections and levels of education. The state constructs official bodies at different levels for the construction of curricula for different courses and programmes offered at different levels of education be it the national level, the university level and province level.

Stakeholders are individuals or institutions that are interrelated in the school curriculum. They are the ones who put into action and give life to the curriculum. They shape the school curriculum implementation. The financial priorities and constraints are seen to be one of the determinants of the curriculum. They can also assist the teachers, principals or other customers in the implementation of the curriculum and evaluate how well it's working after a period of use. Here most stakeholders and financial priorities can fall under the curriculum managers and administrators. They supervise curriculum implementation, select and recruit new teachers, admit students, and procure equipment and materials needed for effective learning. They also plan for the improvement of school facilities and physical plants. They have the privilege to command but at the same time to lead the institution. They are responsible for the final decision making in terms of the school purpose. They are responsible for the kind of curriculum their school will offer and how these are implemented.

Planning and writing the curriculum is the primary role of the teacher. Teachers address the goals needs interests of the learner by creating experiences from where the students can learn. Teachers design enriches and modifies the curriculum to suit the learners' characteristics. The teacher involved in curriculum organization has many roles and responsibilities. Teachers want to enjoy teaching and watching their students develop interests and skills in their interest area. The teacher may need to create lesson plans and syllabi within the framework of the given curriculum since the teacher's responsibilities are to implement the curriculum to meet student needs (Carl, 2009). Many studies support the empowerment of teachers through the participation of curriculum development. For example, Fullan (1991) found that the level of teacher involvement as a center of curriculum development leads to the effective achievement of educational reform. Therefore, the teacher is an important factor in the success of curriculum development including the steps of implication and evaluation. Handler (2010) also found that there is a need for teacher involvement in the development of a curriculum. Teachers can contribute by collaboratively and effectively working with curriculum development teams and specialists to arrange and compose martial, textbook s, and content. Teacher involvement in the process of curriculum development is important to align the content of curriculum with students needs in the classroom. The teacher writes a curriculum daily through a lesson plan, unit plan or yearly plan. Teachers address the goals, needs interests of the learner by creating experiences from where the students can learn. Teachers design enriches and modifies the curriculum to suit the learners' characteristics. Teachers are part of the textbook committee, faculty selection boards, school evaluation committees or textbook writers themselves. Teachers, therefore, become architects of school curriculum. On the other hand, a developed curriculum remains inactive if it is not implemented. At this point, the teachers' role now shifts from developer to implementer.

Learners are the primary stakeholders in the Curriculum. Curriculum developers should consider general student needs for curriculum development, and where the students need to get at the end of the program. This calls for some considerations when planning a curriculum such as the following: age, gender physical, mental and emotional development, cultural background, aspiration and personal goals. The success of the curriculum can only be measured by the degree of learning that the learners have achieved. Especially in an online curriculum, you can't spring huge projects on students the week they are due. You have to let them know upfront, and remind them frequently where they are headed and why. Same with the classroom. If the students don't know where they are going, they are likely to be overwhelmed when they find out about something large and panic. They are the very reason a curriculum is developed. They make and unmake the curriculum by their active and direct involvement. How each learner contributes to the realization of a planned curriculum would depend on the interaction and internalization of the different learning activities. After the curriculum is being used, it should be revised, taking into account student feedback. If students are turning in the wrong assignment for instance, maybe you need to go into the course and correct the instructions or reevaluate the assignment to see what is confusing.

Parents are supporters of the curriculum hence becoming determinants of the curriculum. as they say "My child and my money go to this school". It simply means that the parents are the best supporters of the school, especially because they are the financiers of their children's education. How do parents shape the curriculum and why are they considered as stakeholders? Effective parental involvement in school affairs may be linked to the parent education program which is central to the high-quality educational experiences of the children. It results in better communication between home and school; in this case, there will be lesser disciplinary problems, greater student motivation and more responsibility for learning. Thus, it results in greater academic achievement of students. Also, Parents involvement extends from the confine of the school to the home. The parents follow up the lesson of their children, provides curriculum materials that are not provided in schools, provide permission for their children to participate in various activities outside the campus. Again, in most schools, there is the Parent Association. In most cases, the Parents' Association has strengthened the school curriculum by giving support to various activities and assisting in the accomplishment of the school’s curriculum. It is called the Parents Teacher Association or Parents Teacher Community Association. Many school projects and activities are supported by the organization. This is considered the best practice in most performing schools. "It takes the whole village to educate the child." Former First Lady Hillary Clinton said that the school is indeed in the community, hence the community is the extended school ground, a learning environment. All the barangay leaders, the elders, other citizens and residents of the community have a stake in the curriculum. It is the bigger school community that becomes the venue of learning. The rich natural and human resources of the community can assist in educating the children. The community is the reflection of the school's influence and the school is a reflection of the community support".

Moreover, community or society members are also seen as curriculum determinants. The community members may provide materials in the existing local community that can very well be a substitute for what is needed to implement the curriculum. Respected community members may be included in school boards. Some can become resource speakers that can provide local and indigenous knowledge in the school curriculum. They can provide books, material and facilities in the school.

Foundations of curriculum is not captured in a vacuum. As curriculum development is heavily influenced by philosophy, those involved in such planning should be clear about contemporary, dominant philosophy. If we are unclear about our philosophy of education, our curriculum plans as well as teaching procedures will tend to be inconsistent and vague. Further, we need to be constantly open to new ideas and insights that may lead to a revision or refinement of our philosophies. Our position should be that no single philosophy, old or new, should serve as the exclusive guide for making decisions about curriculum. What we, as curriculum specialists, need to do, is to adopt an eclectic approach, in which there is no undue emphasis on one particular philosophy. In essence, what is need for a better education system is a prudent philosophy, one that is politically and economically feasible and that serves the needs of students and society. Philosophy provides educators, teachers and curriculum makers with a framework for planning, implementing and evaluating curriculum. It helps in answering what educational institutions are for, what subjects are important, how students should learn and what materials and methods should be used in decision-making, philosophy provides the starting point and will be used for the succeeding decision-making. As philosophical issues have always influenced society and institutions of learning, a study of the philosophy of education in terms of Curriculum development is essential. In essence, a philosophy of education influences, and to a large extent determines our educational decisions and alternatives. Those who are responsible for curricular decisions, therefore, should be clear about what they believe. If we are unclear or confused about our own beliefs, then our curricular plans are bound to be unclear and confusing.

In essence, curriculum determinants vary from one geographical area. Also, each determinant has a specific role to play when it comes to curriculum development hence each determinant should be consulted before any curriculum would be developed or implemented... From the above, I suggest that the government of the nation should look up to all these determinants when developing and curriculum for the nation to meet the needs and goals of each other without any causing any form of heresies.

Emmanuel Odoom

Emmanuel Odoom
Emmanuel Odoom, © 2021

The author has 5 publications published on ModernGhana.Column: EmmanuelOdoom

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