How to Fix Education Curricula
The Ministry of Education kicked off its two-day consultation workshop with principals, heads of school boards, and other education partners to engage in a discussion on how curriculums can be streamlined to improve education offering through content and delivery. This is being done to ensure that students who graduate from high schools are adequately prepared in a number of areas that will make them competitive and productive citizens. This initiative is a part of a bigger education sector reform being undertaken by the Ministry – today News Five stopped in at the stakeholder engagement.
Debra Domingo, C.E.O., Ministry of Education
“The graduate should be nationalistic; a global citizen; patriotic; the student has to be actively involved in the economic development of their country; they are also social beings and so there are social attributes that we are looking at and so the propensity to resolve conflicts peacefully.”
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
That is the profile of the “ideal high school graduate” developed by educators. This was done as a part of the start of a wider education reform, which will see the rationalization and diversification of the secondary curriculum in Belize. But what does this mean for Belize in the context of the “ideal high school graduate?”
Glenroy Cumberbatch, CXC
“It means that you are trying to develop a curriculum that produces the kind of graduate that Belize is looking for and that every school will have a responsibility of providing a core curriculum that helps develop that, as well as offers diversification in terms of its core electives – those electives would include technical, creative and regular academic subjects.”
“Why are we moving in that direction; is this a part of a wider initiative in the Caribbean or are there gaps in our curriculum we are using here?”
“Well, both are true. There is a wider movement in the Caribbean. The Heads of Government in 1998 had determined what is the ideal Caribbean person – what are the kind of attributes they are looking for in the person from the Caribbean to develop the social and economic development from the region. Belize took it a step further to identify the ideal Belizean secondary school graduate and what it is they want to see in that person and given the traits and the attributes you are looking for, how do you support that? And you support that through a series of subjects that are done in the classroom.”
“When we make these kinds of changes, we expect some sort of ripple effects that this would have within our society; can you speak to us a little on that?”
“Well, there are a number of things; you would expect that there would be less lawlessness; less criminality and in society you will have more patriotic people who are indebted to the country and want to make sure the country survives and continues to thrives and you will also have greater access to the economy where the economy develops based on the contributions of education where people either become employers or employees in different fields of business.”
One of the things the Ministry of Education has done is to identify a common core of subjects which will help to mold the students into the “ideal graduate” profile; this include the basics of English, Math, among others– as well as Belizean History, IT & Communication. Included are a number of electives and vocational and technical areas. But this would mean that some schools may have to work together.
“The purpose of today is tohave schools begin to do their self-assessments as far as their own capacity to shape that defined graduate and if they believe they come up short; how can they work together with other schools in cluster to share the curriculum clustering. We have proposed certain clusters and it is our intention during today’s workshop for the various stakeholders to look at what we are suggesting.”
“The major challenge would be getting parents to buy in and getting schools to buy in and recognize that what we did in the past may not be good for the 21st century and that we may have to make adjustments; and that is not just about doing good; it is about doing better; it is not just about doing better but doing the best that they can do, so there may be nothing wrong with your school at present but you want to become better; you want to have fewer students who are dropping out and you want to have more students who are getting the five subjects needed to get into university and go on to tertiary level education or go into the work place; so you really want to add value, more value in the institutions that you are in.”
“When we make these kinds of changes; should we anticipate, perhaps, an increase in the cost of education?”
“No. In this case we expect that the resources that are available are shared much easier; and hence the center of excellence concept where you have facilities like ITVET where technical and vocational…diversifying their curriculum to offer more access to students.”
Schools were asked to complete self-assessments which will be verified by the Ministry; following the identification of school clusters, some will form the pilot project which will be reviewed and the initiative will be rolled out over time.
“High school is four years and we need to begin by ensuring that the general core is in place at the first form level and phased into second form and third form and so on. So, it will take place over time.”
Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.