The proposed Basic Education Curriculum Reform will require maximum effort from learners and educators in order to bring about positive outcomes because of the projected increase in the passing requirements from 30% to 40% as from Grade 1-12. Currently, many learners are already struggling to make ends meet with the existing education system, notably, with too many failures who used to benefit and progress through the widly criticized Ministry of Education Policy of Automatic Promotion. Schools with limited resources will be highly affected as they will try to keep up with the pace, set up by curriculum developers. As a result, state and local school boards need to become managers of portfolios of schools instead of operating schools, as they do now, boards need to ensure that all students have access to the variety of quality educational materials at their disposal to meet the Ministry of Education targets and aspiration in pursuing deliverance of quality education to its citizens.
Support subjects such as Life Skills, Religious and Moral Education as well as Physical Education already lack trained personnel; therefore, merging this decomposition into one supporting subject (Life Skills) may require an educator to have an intimate knowledge of all. He/she may not only need to know Life Skills’ subject matter, she/he also needs to be a pundit in Physical Education as well as Religious and Moral Education. Moreover, I believe that workshops will not be adequate to train the ailing teachers to master specific aspects of subject matters in a matter of days. Education should be viewed as the process by which a community points the learning of its members towards its conception of the good. It is not something an individual gets, but an activity in which a community engages in order to preserve and improve itself by developing the knowledge, skills, abilities, and character of its members. In a democratic society, education is the work of the people and this has to be accumulated over the period of time under supervised and conditioned activities.
There are a number of positive aspects with this proposal though. Firstly: by making Pre-primary compulsory could be beneficial. Children, who start school late, are at a disadvantage emotionally, cognitively and linguistically in contrast to those who have enjoyed opportunities for learning and socialization at an earlier age. Secondly: introduction of reading period across the grades. Reading does not only teach learners how to read, it also teaches them how to write and speak, as well as increase their vocabularies. Thirdly: modification of curriculum standards to suit learners with sensory or physical impairments. Fourthly: consistent grade structure. This could be the best way to provide high quality education. One perennial interest is how best our government would configure this structure into public schools. Fifthly: vocational subjects will play a pivotal role in the proposed curriculum. This will solve the myth that vocational education is only for potential dropouts and learners with special needs. In fact, it increases productivity and job access, as well as skills transfer.
I believe that the success of this proposed curriculum depends on how well the government is willing to spend on books, classrooms’ construction and recruiting, as well as training of personnel. Let us hope and pray that, upon its implementation, it will yield better results than the existing education system.
Wilhelm P. Hango