By Saheed Ahmad Rufai
It should be pointed out that the peculiarities of the various regions in Nigeria necessitates the development or derivation of either regional core curricula or regional frameworks from which district or school curricula could be generated. A country like Nigeria with its highly geographically and climatically differentiated zones is best served through local curricula derived from regional core curricula which themselves are derived from the national curriculum framework. How can these curriculum developmental experiences, at these various stages, materialize for Nigeria? That is the essence of stakeholder consultation at which point the political and technical stakeholders play significant role which is obviously missing in the narration contained in the excerpt in question. I do not think Nigeria deserves the likelihood of the Kenyan curriculum crisis.
The Federal Government may want to respect expertise and professionalism in this regard. The country has always seen education as a domain where every individual, regardless of his or her level of education, can perform. This is grounded in the thinking that every educated citizen knows something about teaching and there is no one that cannot teach! However, misconceptions about education in Nigeria are not restricted to people with low level of education. The erroneous thinking that it is a territory that is open to being trodden by all has truly prompted everyone into pronouncing rather erroneously upon and recommending a reform for the system. Consequently, even the good intentions of appreciably educated and concerned stakeholders who offered some recommendations have been articulated rather inaccurately. This lays credence to the plight of education as a discipline committed to the unprofessional hands of lay persons and non-specialists. Every Nigerian thinks the current school curriculum is outdated, archaic and should be “redesigned”!
The Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi wants the curriculum “redesigned” because it is “civil service-oriented” and therefore recommends “entrepreneurship-focussed” education curriculum for the economic development of the country. The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai wants it “reviewed” for it is “outdated and archaic” because it was grounded in the 20th Century while we are in the 21st Century. He recommends as a way out a holistic review and mother tongue education.
Prof. Edwin Egwu of the Lagos Business School wants it redesigned owing to the urgent need for “a holistic overhaul of the curriculum in terms of educational practices, entrance routes to different courses of study, credential requirements in relation to the learning objectives and outcomes, options of continued training, codes of teaching and the evaluation of the teaching requirements for faculty, tutors or teachers”. All these are useful recommendations and ameliorative proposals which do not necessarily offer a technically sound, manageable and organic professional interventions on the desirable content and process of the educational reform for Nigeria.
The education sector is currently boiling in Kenya on account of the fact that the Kenyan government did what the Nigerian government as about to do.Consequently, the Teachers Council declared that the curriculum redesigning process was wrongly handled by the Government which failed to factor all the relevant stakeholders into the curriculum process and only announced to them that it had redesigned the school curriculum. The teachers were therefore directed to ignore the new curriculum and continue to teach the existing one while the government was asked to return to the drawing board with regard to the process of redesigning school curriculum. Is the Federal Government prepared for such unpalatable experience?
How can curriculum redesigning be initiated without a comprehensive retraining of the implementers of the curriculum who are teachers and textbook developers? The Kenyan Institute of Curriculum Development identified several gaps in the new curriculum just a few months to its roll-out and quickly intimated the Education Cabinet Secretary, Amina Muhammed, of this.
Her response was that a team of International Experts has been invited to evaluate the new curriculum. “The Ministry wishes to triangulate our internal Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) pilot findings with other international experts and we have commissioned an external evaluation to generate comparative findings on our state of preparedness for a full curriculum roll-out”, the Education Cabinet Secretary declared. This desperate move by the Kenyan Government can only complicate the unfavourable state of education in the country for they must eventually return to basis of curriculum making as articulated above.
The problems with the redesigned curriculum include its unsystematic nature, teachers’ lack the capacity for the new competency-based curriculum implementation, schools’ lack of instructional and learning materials for the roll-out. Worse than all that is that learning in Class Four may not take place as the curriculum design for this class is yet to be developed. The pupils are therefore not sure which system they will rely upon in learning and this means no teaching or learning will take place at certain classes because the curricula for them are not ready let alone the teachers’ capacity and appropriate books for them. This is what normally happens where the government is not procedural in curriculum making and it gladdens that Kenya is not too far from Nigeria.