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Introduction of new curriculum and its significance

31 October 2021
Introduction of new curriculum and its significance

Masum Billah :
A country develops her education system keeping pace with time as education is an overall objective which is closely related with traditions as well as the current trend of modern world. New time, innovation in information technology, great advancement of science - all these must have a significant space in the curriculum. The curriculum of Bangladesh must be redesigned keeping similarity with the modern curriculum of the outside world. We must give thoughts to the demand of the age and the recent spread of knowledge to develop our curriculum. It is necessary to change, distract and add new things to make education much more suitable and timely. The principal objective of curriculum is to bloom the hidden talents of the learners and transfer to make them skilled and welfare oriented manpower for the nation and world. The socio-economic change in the country, the election manifesto of the government, achieving SDG-4, getting included in the list of middle income country, the promise of freedom fighting, might be the glaring points  to be included in the revised  curriculum.
We know that the syllabus is the educational document developed by the teachers or a particular educational institution or a group of institutions    in the summarized form indicating which subjects and course outline will be studied to the students in a particular year or a specific time. On the other hand, the curriculum refers to the entire content taught in an educational system. At the same time, it possesses in detail the objectives, lessons and academic content and the methodologies to be adopted for the successful transfer of the knowledge to the students. Curriculum is a much broader concept whereas syllabus is narrower comparing to curriculum. Curriculum covers the whole course experience while the syllabus only covers a part of that course experience.
The current global perspective, artificial intelligence, fourth industrial revolution and the very recent Coronoa pandemic remind us of changing our education curriculum to prepare the future generation so that they can face the challenges of the 21st century lying ahead. The modification and implementation of curriculum usually takes place in ten to twelve years gap. On the basis of Kudrat-e- Khuda Education Report (1972-74) the first curriculum and syllabus development happened between 1976-80 which was modified twice in 1991-95 and 2012 respectively. The modification period between the first and second phase was fifteen to sixteen years. But the third one came in 2011-13 at a period of eight years' gap. The step began in 2017 with the formation of two committees consisting of educationists of the country. Then again, 'curriculum development and revision core committee' was formed where ten educationists have been included. The committee submitted the 114-page outline of the curriculum which invited suggestions and opinions of the educationists and people concerned. Finally, it was sent to the 'national curriculum co-ordination committee' for further revision and comments. The curriculums of 102 countries have also been consulted to develop the new one. This gradual and step by step process to give a final shape to a revised curriculum deserves appreciation.
The new curriculum is going to be introduced from the year 2023. In order to ensure playful learning for the children there will be no terminal examination till grade three. However, pupils' performance would be assessed on the basis of their classroom activities though its way has not been mentioned.  The new curriculum will be piloted in 100 primary and 100 secondary schools. The students of class one and two and the students of grade six and seven will receive new books on new curriculum from the year 2023. In 2024 grade three and four and eight and nine will be brought under new curriculum. By the year 2025 all the students of secondary level will come under this new curriculum and in 2026 eleven class and 2027 twelve class will be brought under it. A cohesion has been maintained to amalgamate the continuity from pre-primary to grade twelve syllabus. From pre-primary to grade three hundred percent assessment will be classroom based while grade four and five will have 60 percent classroom based and 40 per cent summative assessment in Bengali, English, Mathematics, Science and social Science. Life skill and livelihood, Digital Technology, Physical and Mental Health safety, Religion and Arts and Culture will have classroom based assessment. In grade nine and ten fifty percent assessment will be school based and the rest fifty percent summative in Bengali, English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. Other subjects will have classroom based assessment.  In the eleventh and twelfth grade, 30 percent classroom based assessment will be done in compulsory subjects while 70 percent will be summative assessment. The duration of class will be two and a half hours in the pre-primary, three and a half hours from grade one to three, five hours from Six to Eight Grade, five and a half hours in nine and ten and the same for Grade Eleven and Twelve.
The positive aspects that sound sweet to our ears of this proposed curriculum are ---- no examination till grade three, no public examination in grade five and eight that have been taking place for one decade by virtue of the executive order of the ministry even though it is not mentioned in the 2010 'Education Policy'. The proposed curriculum gives more emphasis on classroom based assessment than summative one but the question is what percentage of teachers and educational institutions are ready for it? What now happens to the students who study in science group? Many educational institutions don't have even laboratory but the students obtain full almost full marks in practical parts. Awarding 60 marks to a student who reads in an ordinary school and awarding the same marks to a student of an established institution does mean a gulf of difference. Awarding this marks by a  teacher who has  deep   knowledge in a subject,  pretty long  experience may mean reasonable but a new, inexperienced teacher having shallow knowledge in a subject will award the same marks quite unreasonably. This kind of experience I had had in umpteen times in my teaching career. This is a reality. The curriculum should have a guideline or prescription on how to avoid or minimize this difference.
All pupils will have to study Language and Communication, Mathematics and Logic, Livelihood and Life Skills, Social and Global Citizenship, Climate and Environment, Science and Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Physical and Mental Health Safety, Values and Moral education, Arts and Culture.  The subject contents will be changed and the number of books will become less and SSC examination will be held on the syllabus of class ten only, not on nine and ten together like the current practice. There will be two public examinations in the intermediate level - one in Class Eleven and another one in Class Twelve and the results of HSC will be published on the basis of combined results. It might be a good decision as we know in the eleven class students are taught first papers of all the elective subjects and in the second year second papers. When HSC examination takes place students have to sit for the examinations in all the papers after two years that seems a huge burden for them and they cannot digest all the subjects well. In the proposed system they will have less burden and time to digest the subjects.
The curriculum of many countries involves the disasters-both natural and manmade-and students are taught how to adjust themselves with those through project work. Suppose road accident has become a common affair in our country. It does not necessarily happen only because of the carelessness of the drivers. The passersby also show negligence or ignorance towards traffic rules. They need to have clear and practical ideas about traffic rules, the meaning of the signal of traffic lights - these are very much fundamental in their own life. In recent years thunder storm is causing the death of many people. It takes place both in urban and rural areas. Students must have learnt how to take effective measures to save oneself from electrocution and primary ideas about electric goods during the rainy season.  Study tour need to be introduced in schools, colleges and universities as it will them the opportunity of real and practical learning.  Students have to submit reports and give presentation after visiting places of historical importance.  This is life orientated education has been proposed in the new curriculum.
To materialise the digital revolution or fourth industrial revolution, we must ensure quality education for our students   from primary to tertiary level and technology to be included to make them skilled manpower. Only skilled manpower may not even help develop the country until and unless humanistic quality is not included in the curriculum. Sympathy and empathy and real patriotism must be inculcated in the brain of our students otherwise expected service and behavior cannot be received from them. Moral development is a must. If any education fails to develop the morality of the learners, it does not promise to bring about real changes in the society, country and entire human community. Doing well to the entire human community along with personal and familial development is the prime objective of education. Today what we observe, the highly educated people get involved actively in serious corruption doing a catastrophic harm to the society, country and humans. Developing curriculum keeping all these aspects into consideration proves to be really a gigantic task. One of the definitions of education is 'Education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skill, values, beliefs and habits.' In the present world education gained through either formal, non-formal or informal ways is recognized as education. Only coming and going to schools and passing the exams may not make one real educated. Education and competence stands as complementary to each other. One is crippled without the other. The introduction of 'Learning by doing' style may develop a bridge between the gaps lying here and the inclusion of morality must be attached to make it really meaningful.  

(Masum Billah works as an expert in BRAC Education Program and President, English Teachers'
Association of Bangladesh).

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