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How school curriculum has changed

SOME pupils in secondary school tend to wonder why they learn about other countries, civic functions and life in the past centuries, among other relevant subjects.
Nonetheless, geography, civics and history are some of the subjects that are appreciated long after they are embedded in the minds of learners as they become more relevant in daily activities of one’s association with the modern world.
This is also true about subjects such as accounts, book Keeping, office practice and Commerce, some of which in the past were considered as optional or not so important in secondary schools.
But as the maxim goes, “Change is the only constant,” the school curriculum, like other key national programmes impacting on the socio-economic future of the country, has also been subject to change to conform to the needs of time.
In efforts to revise and tailor the school curriculum to the changing educational needs, the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education has introduced a new curriculum in which civics, geography and history have been bonded into one subject-Social Studies, at junior secondary school level.
Ministry spokesperson Hillary Chipango also indicates that accounts, book keeping, office practice and commerce will be ‘rolled’ into one subject styled as business studies.
Other changes in the curriculum include the introduction of a subject called design and technology which will encompass subjects such as geometrical and mechanical drawing, metal and wood work at both junior and senior secondary levels.
Mr Chipango says Zambia is undergoing rapid socio-economic development prompting a revision of the curriculum in the education sector.
The curriculum revision was conducted by Government through the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education with the help of the United States Agency for International Development in 2014 in an effort to upsurge and enhance pupil performance at secondary school level.
He points out that education is an “agent of change” which requires modification to suit the needs of time.
“While education has always been perceived as a social sector, it is also an economic tool for development. It is against this background that the Zambia Education Curriculum framework has been developed to provide further guidance on the preferred type of education for the nation,” Mr Chipango explains.
The new curriculum, he says, has also been linked at all levels, from general certificate of education to tertiary education and adult literacy.
The necessary career paths for learners at secondary school level have also been provided.
According to Mr Chipango, the move is expected to accord learners an opportunity to academically progress in line with their abilities and interests.
“Curriculum development is a consultative and participatory process. The development of the Zambia Education Curriculum could therefore not have been achieved without the cooperation of various stakeholders within and outside the education system,” Mr Chipango notes.
The new education programme will mainly focus on areas such as incorporation of current areas of social, economic and technological developments in the curriculum and the opening of two career pathways at secondary school level.
The career pathways are at academic and vocational levels.
Others include the linking of school vocational curriculum to technical and vocational training programme and integration of some subjects with interrelated and similar competences and content into learning areas.
This is in a bid to avoid curriculum fragmentation caused by lack of flexibility in the classroom, which can in turn lead to failure by pupils.
The new curriculum also spells out clear key competences set to be achieved by learners at every level of education.
The junior secondary school curriculum is a two-year course that covers grades eight and nine of the Zambian education system.
The curriculum at this level also equips learners with knowledge and skills to either continue with the academic education or pursue pre-vocational and life skills.
Mr Chipango says the focus at this level is to produce a learner with basic competences in communication (oral and written), mathematics, science, pre-vocational and life skills.
The major changes expected at this level, he says, are academic and vocational career pathways.
The academic pathway is meant for learners with a passion for academic subjects and desire for similar occupations.
“The vocational career pathway is for learners with ambitions and interests in technical and practical jobs. The subject will provide practical skills to learners starting from grade eight through to grade 12.
“In the provision of the curriculum, schools will closely collaborate with trade institutes and other key stakeholders in various specialisations,” Mr Chipango says.
Junior secondary schools will offer both academic and technical career pathways. Wood work, metal work, technical drawing and building crafts have been integrated into design and technology.
This has been done in an effort to produce holistic learners with knowledge and skills in relevant fields.
“Book keeping and office Practice have been integrated into business studies to equip learners with essential business skills for them to have basic knowledge of the business world,” he says.
Civic education, geography and History have been integrated into Social Studies because some contents in the subjects are interrelated.
Some competences in the three subjects are also similar.
To put the ‘icing on the cake’ and move in tandem with the technological age, computer studies have also been introduced at secondary level.
This is aimed at equipping pupils with essential skills and basic knowledge in information communications technology, marking an end to the ‘Born Before Computers (BBC)’ era.