Curriculum implementation not  a joke

Curriculum implementation not a joke

ONE of the major grievances teachers have tabled before the Ministry of Education and Training is their inability to implement the Curriculum and Assessment Policy of 2009.
The teachers complain that the ministry has not capacitated them enough to tackle the curriculum they have since dubbed “pele feela” as because it discourages schools from forcing struggling students to repeat grades.
The main objective of this policy was to review education curricula at both primary and secondary school level with the purpose of “making education at these levels accessible, relevant, efficient and of the best quality.

The policy’s main goals are to:

  • Determine the nature and direction of the national curriculum and assessment system
  • Address the emerging issues pertaining to new demands, practices and life challenges of the modern global world
  • Monitor quality, relevance and efficiency of basic and secondary education
  • Coordinate and maintain consistency of what is taught, learned and assessed

The goals and the aims seem quite good on paper but teachers are agitated, anxious and nervous because they do not comprehend what they should be doing to achieve what the policy requires.
The implementation or lack of the CAP 2009, reminds me of the chaos that surrounded the implementation of the Curriculum 2005 in South Africa.

In its endeavour to redress the educational injustices of apartheid’s Bantu Education, the new government introduced what it called the new rational curriculum for the twenty-first century.
Incorporated within the Curriculum 2005 was the Outcome-based Education (OBE) that was launched in 1997. Even at its inception some experts were already warning that the OBE was headed for a spectacular failure.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, a renowned curriculum specialist in both South Africa and abroad, pointed out that the OBE said as much.
The argument was that the policy was doomed to fail, not necessarily because it was a bad policy, but because it was not suitable for the South African context.

Other studies also revealed that the problems surrounding the implementation of the OBE included among others, the inability of the policy document to provide sufficiently for effective implementation.

Moreover, the department of education told that the policy will not succeed because there were no resources and skills to implement it.
The country did not have classrooms and there was a dire lack of teaching and learning materials in schools.
Most teachers were not given the right training to meet requirements of the new curriculum.

In addition, the OBE policy had a provision that encouraged the active involvement of parents in the education of their children. However, the-powers-that-be, forgot to give the parents the necessary training to play the pivotal role that they had just been assigned in the education of their children.

The result is that the OBE was a dismal failure and had to be subsequently replaced with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) which was introduced in phases from 2012.
One would wonder what the relevance of the South African experience with OBE is to Lesotho.
One of the most important and significant studies in the field of education, especially in education policy studies, is the study of comparative education.

Embedded within comparative education and policy studies is the element of finding out how others are doing in order to borrow ideas and learn from their mistakes so as to improve how you do things.

There are striking similarities between the OBE implementation and the way the CAP 2009 is being implemented in Lesotho.
For example, schools in the rural areas remain disadvantage compared to their counterparts in the urban areas. One of the areas that are expected to form the basis of learning is Creativity and Entrepreneurship. Among the core subjects of this learning area is ICT. How do we expect a learner in Sanqebethu, who may have never seen a computer, let alone a smart phone, comprehend ICT?
South African teachers complained that during the introduction of OBE they only got a one week of training on the curriculum. Our teachers are crying about the lack of training.

They claim they do not know what to teach because they do not have enough knowledge of the curriculum. Their training on the new curriculum amounted to a two-week workshop.

Another hurdle that is facing the effective implementation of the CAP 2009 is lack of teaching and learning aids. There are no textbooks and laboratories are not properly equipped, making it even more difficult to implement the curriculum.
Moreover, parents are unable to assist my children with their assignments as most of the things taught sound like Greek to them.
If a holder of a degree in education like me is struggling you can imagine how challenging it is for parents who did not go beyond primary school.

Malcom X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it.” I think it is wise for the Ministry of Education to heed those words and ensure that the implementation of this new curriculum is to the benefit not the detriment of the future of our children.

It seems that although the CAP 2009 is a very good policy on paper it might just be too expensive for Lesotho. My advice is that ministry should budget appropriately to accommodate this curriculum or ditch it if they can’t afford it. The future of our upcoming leaders depends very much on proper implementation of this curriculum.
Do it well or don’t do it at all.

Kelello Rakolobe

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