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CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT IN MY COUNTRY: Understanding the role of the Curriculum Development Unit in Fiji

                     Author: Reema Alpana

Introduction

Thaman (2009) defines curriculum as a planned and organized learning experience, generally provided by schools. However, Maha (2009) stresses that the term curriculum is problematic to define due to the different perception educators have about curriculum and how they reflect it.

I personally feel that curriculum is similar to a blueprint of a building; it gives detailed description for the construction to be carried out at the different levels of the developmental process. It is basically designed to suit the needs of its context and purpose i.e. the place where it is being constructed and the purpose it will serve.  Likewise, curriculum developers design curriculum which is relevant to the student’s context as well as purpose i.e. what the subject aims to teach. Whereas, the construction at each level in the “blueprint theory” would represent the various level/form or grade being taught. Hence, it is definitive to state that having a suitably planned curriculum is a vital component of the learning-teaching process.

Thus, in this essay, I aim to identify the overall organization of the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) in the Fiji Islands, its role, together with its recent and current curriculum development projects. Furthermore, I will highlight the problems and challenges faced by the CDU staff and finally provide a brief conclusion to sum up my findings about Fiji’s CDU.

The organization of the CDU

The CDU located at Waisomo House, Thurston Street, Suva. It is comprised of the Principal Education Officer (PEO) and the Primary Curriculum Officers (SEOs and EOS) for the different subject areas in Primary as well as Secondary teaching level except Technical Vocational Educational and Training subjects (Sigawale, 2013).

 

The Role of the CDU/ what the CDU does?

The CDU is a branch of the Curriculum Advisory Services (CAS), which is responsible for the facilitation and promotion of quality education and excellence in the teaching and learning of all the subjects offered at the primary and secondary school levels thus ensuring quality and relevant education for all the children in Fiji Islands. The CDU is the primary body responsible for the development and evaluation of the School Curricula from Early Childhood Education (ECE) to Form 7 level. It is also responsible for the mounting of the in-service courses for teachers, upgrading their skills on the curriculum content and teaching and learning methods (Sigawale, 2013).  In addition to this role, it also carries out school visits to provide professional advice and assistance to teachers as well as assist in the preparation of classroom and national assessment works, such as External Exams (Sigawale, 2013).

 

Recent and current curriculum development projects

According to Sigawale (2013) the recent and current curriculum development projects includes the following;

 

  • Citizenship Education Project
  • Family Life Education Project
  • National Curriculum Framework
  • New Assessment Framework
  • Financial Education
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Climate change

 

All the above projects are incorporated into the respective curriculum areas for both primary and secondary levels except the Family Life Education whereby there is an officer that is entirely responsible for the implementation of Family Life Education in the curriculum (Sigawale, 2013).

 

Major problems or challenges faced by the CDU staff

Planning and upgrading curriculum could become a hectic process at times; this is because it requires the curriculum to be inclusive of all recent issues and transformations in the society and the country at large i.e. it shall include issues, such as global climate change, information and communications technology (ICT), gender based equality and so forth.

Sigawale (2013) claims that while attempting to make curriculum fair for all i.e. regardless the culture, background and ethnicity the CDU is faced with numerous challenges. Some of the apparent challenges include;

  • High Staff Turn-over:  This is either due to officer retirement or they are offered better jobs offer from elsewhere, such as in other public or private sectors.
  • Lack of Training: May new staffs do not hold any prior knowledge or experience about Curriculum Development and it’s fundamentals as they join the unit straight from School. Thus, this slows down the operation of the unit since these new appointee learn on the job.
  • Multiple roles: Many CDU officers are faced with the challenge of playing multiple roles i.e. their job requires them to more than just upgrading the curriculum.

 

Conclusion

Based on the evidences provided herein, it is clear to me that the curriculum development and upgrading process is a key component of the school system. As discussed, it may turn out to be quiet challenging at times; nevertheless its enforcements are often reflected at community/society level i.e. it strongly contributes towards the shaping of individuals in terms of their values, belief, behaviour, discipline, understanding and knowledge.

Moreover, it is advisable to state that in order to avoid the challenges and problems faced by the CDU (as mentioned above); it should provide regular workshops (such as twice a month) for its staff on the curriculum development process as well as provide their staff with the opportunity to pursue further studies (such as overseas training) on curriculum related studies, attend seminars on current education related issues and ensure that their create more employment in the unit to avoid overloading their staff.

 

Bibliography

Maha, A. (2009). A reflection on the reform and implementation of the parimary curriculum in Papua New Guniea: In K.H Thaman & K. Saga (Eds.), Re-thinking Education Curricula in the Pacific: Challenges and Prospects. (pp.13-14).New Zealand: He Parekereke Institute for Research and Development in Maori and Pacific Education.

Sigawale, L. (2013). The Curriculum Development Unit: Handout given at one-one meeting, Suva, Fiji Islands.

Thaman, K.H. (2009). Introduction: the need to re-think Pacific curriculum. In K.H Thaman & K. Saga (Eds.), Re-thinking Education Curricula in the Pacific: Challenges and Prospects. (pp.13-14).New Zealand: He Parekereke Institute for Research and Development in Maori and Pacific Education.

 

March 31, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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