BY DAYO ADESULU
A new 9-year basic education curriculum (BEC) which has only ten subject listings instead of the one presently being used at the basic education level which has 20 subject listings, is to be used for teaching and learning throughout the country, beginning from next year.
The arduous task of revising the BEC which commenced in December last year, has been concluded by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).
The process of reviewing the curriculum was finalized by the nation’s curriculum developer at the editorial workshop which held in Enugu last week where experts in curriculum, subject matters specialists, teachers, education policymakers at various levels, employers of labour and parents met for two days and put finishing touches to the curriculum by correcting all grammatical and typographical errors in the document as well as identifying and eliminating repetitions or content duplication.
According to the Executive Secretary of the parastatal, Prof. Godswill Obioma, the implementation of the revised curriculum will commence next year in Primary 1 and JSS 1 classes nationwide after its ratification by the Joint Consultative Council on Education (JCCE) and the National Council on Education (NCE), adding that the workshop is the final phase of the series of workshops and consultations with critical stakeholders of education for the review of the curriculum.
The Professor of Mathematics Education and Evaluation explains that while the structure of the existing 9-year BEC comprises of 20 subjects, the newly revised structure has ten subjects. This reduction in subject’s listings, according to the NERDC boss, was achieved by grouping related disciplines.
His words; “Related UBE subjects curricula like Home Economics and Agriculture are brought together to create a new UBE subjects curriculum called Pre-Vocational Studies. Similarly, Islamic Studies, Christian Religious Studies, Social Studies, Civic Education and so forth that focus primarily on the inculcation of values (societal, moral, interpersonal) now form a new UBE subject called Religion and National Values.”
He continues; “Key concepts in the former curricula now form integrating threads for organising the contents of the new subjects into a coherent whole. In the process of the review, particular efforts were made to eliminate content repetitions within and across subjects to further reduce the overload and encourage innovative teaching and learning techniques.
In line with the framework for reviewing the curriculum which was adopted at a national stakeholders’ forum on February 9 this year, says Obioma, pupils in primaries 1-3 are to offer a minimum of seven subjects and maximum of eight subjects. Pupils in primaries 4-6 are to take a minimum of eight and maximum of nine subjects while JSS 1- 3 students are to offer a minimum of nine and a maximum of 10 subjects.
He explains the rationale for reducing the subject listings at the basic education level from 20 to 10. Hear him; “Recent feedback on the implementation of BEC suggests that the curriculum is overloaded in terms of the numbers of subjects offered at the basic education level.
A major outcome of the presidential summit on the state of education in Nigeria which held on 4th and 5th of October, 2010 was the need to reduce the curriculum offerings. For example, pupils in Kenya offer seven subjects; Tanzania, eight subjects; USA, six subjects; Malaysia and Indonesia, nine subjects each. Consequently, NERDC was mandated to revise the 9 – year BEC”.
The subjects listed in the new curriculum for primaries 1 – 3 are English Studies, Mathematics, One Nigerian Language, Basic Science and Technology (under which are Physical and Health Education and Computer Studies/ICT), Pre-vocational Studies (comprising Home Economics, Agriculture and Entrepreneurship), Religion and Values Education (made up of Social Studies, Civic Education and Security Education), Cultural and Creative Arts and Arabic Language (which is optional). These same subjects are offered by pupils in primary 4 – 6 with the addition of French Language while Business Studies is added to the subject listings for JS1- 3.
Obioma assures that all local, national and global issues currently influencing the lives of Nigerian children are adequately reflected in the curricula. He said; “The curricula (subjects) are up to date with current demands and practices in the disciplines. This clearly departs from the vicious cycle of theory or mere memorization.
The curricula content activities are presented in practical oriented steps and stages that enable the learners to see, touch, handle, and feel. This will enable the pupils to truly learn, internalize what they learn, and use it for problem solving and for living. The curricula encourage learning by doing and use of self-learning strategies.”
A functional curriculum, according to him, fosters national development and this informed the careful efforts put into the revision exercise. “The school curriculum by its essential purpose is the mechanism through which the educational system addresses the needs, problems and aspirations of a nation or society,” he said.