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Analyzing Puntland’s ‘National Curriculum’ Part III

Abdirizak H. Nuurre, PhD

Purpose: We examined ‘Puntland National Curriculum Framework’ (PNCF) in two separate papers to understand its meanings and to determine its “form and substance”. We analyzed the developers’ approach to PNCF purpose and content, development, planning, guiding theories, organization, implementation, and evaluation. We reviewed these important components within the framework for curriculum analysis which focused on curriculum documentations and origins, curriculum proper, and curriculum in use.

Students, Puntland school system

We examined the curriculum concept irrespective of the debate between educators as “expected ends of education” or “expected means of education”. We learned how the developers viewed the curriculum development process and we understood the perception on which PNCF rests. The purpose of this paper is to enlighten our judgment on the curriculum. It focuses on its strengths and weaknesses and delineates the ways to maximize its benefits and to minimize its risks. Part one and part two of the analysis have been published.

The analysis of PNCF strengths and weaknesses was based on the following Ralph Tyler’s questions:

  1. What educational purposes should the [curriculum] seek to attain?
  2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
  3. How can these experiences be effectively organized?
  4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?

PNCF Strengths

A curriculum signifies the demonstration of learning and teaching design in practice. It must be designed such that it is easily delivered to both the learner and the teacher (Prideaux, 2003, as cited in Al-Eyd et., 2018). PNCF developers took some positive steps for curriculum planning to meet Ralph Tyler’s Rationale. They responded to Tyler’s important questions on curriculum organization during the planning phase of the document. The developers defined the educational purposes of the curriculum in seven interrelated goals they dubbed ‘National Goals of Education’. PNCF’s main purpose was to manage the school education, where learners become competent to take on “the challenges in the 21st century.”

Other purposes included assessing learners, teachers, schools, and the curriculum, in addition to providing a direction on the content of the curriculum and how the content is delivered in schools. Within the limits of Puntland education system, the document was designed to “resolving socio-economic, political, cultural and spiritual challenges”, which the state was enduring since its birth (PNCF, 2015). Moreover, the document was projected to improve the conditions of life among the residents vis-à-vis collective values, health improvement, job prospects, governance, and environment. These important complementary goals were planned to moving Puntland state forward socially, politically, ecologically, and economically.

PNCF delineated the educational experiences that can be provided to attain the learning purposes of the curriculum. The core subjects in the curriculum included mathematics, science, business, agriculture, social studies, technology, arts and craft, physical education, languages, and governance. The ancillary subjects comprised peace and conflict studies, child and human right, environmental studies, health and nutrition, gender, global issues on HIV-AIDS and TDs, drugs, and culture and heritage. Besides, PNCF promotes extra curricula activities such as clubs, sports, and cultural activities where students will attain these after school activities in consort with learning the core subjects and other ancillary courses (PNCF, 2015). These educational experiences provided by the curriculum were intended to help students to effectively achieve the educational purposes.

Weakness in the Developing Education Goals

Under the National Goals of Education, PNCF listed its educational goals without reviewing relevant literature of the existing research on this subject to properly understand the differences between societal, administrative, and educational goals. The definitions of these terms were not itemized for the purpose of achieving the national goals of education. PNCF was expected to contribute to the achievement of the societal goals some of which listed under the National Goals of Education. They included moral development, health promotion, environmental protection, and fostering world peace.

These goals are a sample of societal goals citizens need to achieve through Puntland’s political, economic, educational, and social institutions. The administrative goals’ section, sub-titled as governance goals, was improperly included several societal goals such as promoting social justice, protecting, and fostering human rights and freedom, and advancing human relations at the community level. These goals are societal goals and need to be listed under a societal goals’ section. The developers should study what relevant societal, administrative, and educational goals necessary for PNCF to successfully achieve its intended goals before listing any of these inappropriately goals.

Weakness in the Objectives

PNCF did not derive the objectives of the curriculum from methodical research of the learners and from studies of the subject matter by experts. The developers did not include these important sources of the objectives in the curriculum. However, they derived some of the objectives from the present life analyses of the residents.

Weakness in the Scope and Sequences

Even though PNCF included the Scope and Sequence of the experiences within each field of study, the developers employed weak organizing elements to provide the scope and the sequence of each subject in the curriculum. The scope and sequence proposal offered equivocal instruction of each curricular stage as opposed to each grade level within the education phases. For example, the scope and sequence design of the Somali language courses in the secondary grade levels were all linked to one learning outcome.

The learning outcome for the students in the ninth-grade level and the students in the 12th grade level are the same. The curriculum must delineate separately the scope and sequence for the subjects of each grade level.

Weakness in Syllabus and Standards

PNCF must provide a methodical process which schools follow when developing syllabus for each subject, i.e., a model for the school syllabus. It must also define the standards for each subject rather than integrating different standards of a subject in one curricular stage, e.g., secondary education. This is the weakest point of the curriculum.

Weakness in Studying Learners and Teachers

PNCF discounted the roles of the learners, the teachers, and the subject matter. Studying the characteristics of the learners and how they learn the content are important when planning and developing a curriculum. Student-centered learning broadly involves teaching and learning approaches that address developing and enforcing active engagements of the learners by placing them at the center of learning (Jones, 2007). It invites students to deeply interact with the subject matter, develop a discussion and teamwork, critically think, and thoroughly ponder their learning progress (Biggs, 1987).  

PNCF developers overlooked to investigate students’ interests, the level of their experiences, their needs, their views of education, and the difficulties they had to get access to quality education. Focusing on these characteristics can help to develop a well-ordered content that can address the educational needs of the learners. Therefore, learners’ participation in the planning and the development stages of PNCF was important planning element developers discounted.

Teachers’ interests and their level of expertise in the subject matter are important to investigate before developing a curriculum. They have diverse views about the content that should be covered and delivered to students (Chiu & Chai, 2020). Their experiences determine the curriculum implementation since teachers organize and implement the content, assess the efficiency of the curricula, the schools, and the learner in achieving the intended educational objectives (Posner, 2004). Teachers’ tasks of delivering the content of the curricula, helping students to learn the content, and inspiring stakeholders to effectively participate in achieving the educational goals were overlooked by the curriculum developers.

Weakness in the Evaluation Method

Whether the purposes of the curriculum were attained or not can be determined by developing “objective evaluation instruments”. These evaluation tools, developed to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum, include exams, quizzes, class and homework assignments, and school records (Posner, 2004). PNCF, without instructing specific evaluation tools, provided methods to investigate the schools’ teaching and learning approaches.

These provisions for evaluation are suggestions, not objective assessment tools or evaluation data such as test scores. PNCF did not clearly state the evaluation tools schools entail to gather the evaluation data. Nonetheless, “curriculum decisions, are never limited” to address specific questions of how to teach or learn specific content (Posner, 2004). They only address why it is necessary to teach and learn the content and who should teach them to whom.      

Conclusion

To enlighten our judgment on the curriculum, PNCF is a reliable document that addresses Puntland educational goals. It includes the educational experiences that can be delivered to attain the above-mentioned educational goals. However, to maximize its benefits and to minimize its risks, the developers must address the following main problems in the curriculum. The first problem is the missing of an operational guiding philosophy. Philosophies promote balance and moderation, address the local demands, and benefit learners to effectively achieve the learning objectives. The philosophies of education address how the content of the curriculum is organized, facilitated, delivered, and evaluated after instruction (Posner, 2004). It is important to note philosophies that influence the curriculum. To preserve the cultural heritage of the local community, the philosophy must be Traditionalism; to enable students to think more ingeniously, the philosophy must be Constructivism.

The second problem is the lack of framework for the school syllabus. The syllabus is a document used to implement the curriculum content. It delineates the goals and objectives of the course, resource materials that will be used to achieve the learning goals, topics and assignments that will be covered, and the proper evaluation tools that will be used to assess whether the course objectives were successfully achieved. A well-designed syllabus can lead to a learning activity that runs smoothly throughout the education period (Blowers, 2002). PNCF must provide a framework which schools can follow when creating a syllabus for each subject. The third problem is the curriculum standards. Standards are developed separately, and they measure the learning outcomes. The description of how to develop standards must be noted in the curriculum while the process of developing sets of standards is described in a separate document.

Curriculum standards are essential to understand how overall the state’s education system is effective. They describe the contents to be learned in all grade levels and encourage students to gain new knowledge from different learning disciplines. PNCF must include standards that outline what students for each grade level and for each course should be able to perform after the completion of the learning.

Dr. Abdirizak H. Nurre
Email:[email protected]

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References

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Biggs, J. Student Approaches to Learning and Studying; Australian Council for Educational

Research: Melbourne, Australia, 1987.

Blowers, P. (2002). Course syllabus construction: A stitch in time saves nine. Atlanta: American

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conference-papers-proceedings/course-syllabus-construction-stitch-time saves/docview/

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Chiu, T. K. F., & Ching-sing Chai. (2020). Sustainable curriculum planning for artificial

intelligence education: A self-determination theory perspective. Sustainability, 12(14),

5568. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/su12145568

Jones, L. The Student-Centered Classroom; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2007.

Posner, G. J. (2004). Analyzing the curriculum (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Jane E. Karpacz.

Prideaux D. Curriculum design. Br Med J. 2003;326(7383):268–70

Puntland Ministry of Education and Higher Education. (2015). National curriculum development

framework


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