Economic development inspired new schools curriculum, educationists say

The Government today unveils a new curriculum for nursery, primary, and secondary education, which officials have described as competence-based and potentially providing students with critical skills they need to survive in the country and the world.
Rwamukwaya  addresses the media as Musabe looks. (John Mbanda)
Rwamukwaya addresses the media as Musabe looks. (John Mbanda)

The Government today unveils a new curriculum for nursery, primary, and secondary education, which officials have described as competence-based and potentially providing students with critical skills they need to survive in the country and the world.

Officials at the Ministry of Education (Mineduc) have said that the new curriculum was inspired by Rwanda’s economic development aspirations, such as the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) and Vision 2020.

The curriculum was also informed by the integration process, where Rwanda wants to harmonise education programmes within both the East African Community and the Commonwealth group of nations to which the country is a member.

It will also draw some lessons from the so-called Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan).

Unlike the current curriculum that focuses more on theoretical than practical skills, the new curriculum engages students in doing more practices and discussions in order to empower learners with both skills and analytical tools that are needed to survive in the real world.

Experts at the Ministry of Education have described the new curriculum as competence-based while they said the previous curriculum was only knowledge-based.

The Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, Olivier Rwamukwaya, said the new system of education will help students to become citizens who are able to respond to labour market demands.

“On top of instilling knowledge in students, they are also empowered with practical skills they will need to use in the world of work. The new curriculum will not only help students get knowledge, but also acquire skills that are needed to create jobs,” Rwamukwaya said during a news conference yesterday.

Under EDPRSII, the government seeks to create more than 200,000 off farm jobs every year through 2017, a dream whose realisation requires competence-based system of education according to experts.

Replacing theories with practice

Dr Joyce Musabe, the head of curriculum development at the Rwanda Education Board (REB), said the new curriculum has ensured that so many theories in lessons are replaced by hands-on skills, a shift seen as guaranteeing a better quality of education.

“What we want to prioritise is giving students quality of education. In the new curriculum, the little offered will be well offered. In the previous curriculum, students would get a lot of theory without practice. Students would spend a lot of time taking notes instead of analysing the notes and putting them into practice,” she said at the media conference.

Musabe added that the new curriculum will provide students with hands-on training, hence some subjects such as Biology have become Biology and Health Science, Geography has become Geography and Environment, while new lessons such as Farming and English Literature, as well as new courses in the ordinary level of secondary education, have been introduced.

She said the new curriculum has been developed following a reform process that began in 2013 with studies taking place in more than 150 schools countrywide to analyse strengths and weaknesses of the existing curriculum.

After the study trips in the schools, results were presented to education stakeholders during a national consultative curriculum conference in November 2013.

In 2014, the curriculum reform team at the Ministry of Education elaborated subject overviews and revised all subject syllabi from kindergarten to senior six.

Implementation plan

Following the launch of the new curriculum today, learning materials in line with the new curriculum will be developed and teachers will be trained to facilitate the implementation of the curriculum starting January, next year.

The new curriculum will be in place in schools, beginning with kindergarten, primary one and four, as well as senior one and four.

In the lead up to today’s launch, officials at the Ministry of Education have urged all education stakeholders to support its swift implementation.

“The curriculum is only as good as its implementation and, therefore, REB urges the supports and commitments of all stakeholders, including schools, communities, local government and development partners in ensuring the successful implementation of this curriculum,” Mineduc officials said in a media release issued yesterday.

The Director-General of REB, Janvier Ismael Gasana, said Rwandans should understand that the new education curriculum has been designed to respond to their needs and hence collectively embrace it.

“The changes that have been made are not just changes for the sake of making changes; they are in line with the current needs of the country,” he said.

The implementation of the new curriculum will be progressive, spanning three years from 2016 to 2017 as well as national examinations in 2018, officials said.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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