The new curriculum conundrum

11 January 2019 | Columns

A number of stakeholders including parents and unionists have unleashed their criticism of the new national education curriculum, which they fear will do more harm than good. According to the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), the new curriculum is the biggest change since the introduction of the Cambridge HIGSCE and IGSCE courses in 1994. Government last year abolished external grade 10 examinations, meaning grade 9 learners will now write semi-external exams, while grade 10 forms part of the senior secondary phase. Secondary school is now divided into three phases, the junior secondary phase comprised of grade 8 and 9, the senior secondary phase comprised of grade 10 and 11 and the grade 12 advanced subsidiary level. More than 100 junior secondary schools across the country will be upgraded to senior secondary level, which means they will have to take in grade 11 learners in 2020. However, a myriad of challenges have been highlighted and even teachers themselves have raised adaptability issues, which will heavily impact learning in the long run. Of course teachers have to take on the new challenge, which in all probability requires a more sophisticated approach. But a poorly structured curriculum with a lot of learning bottlenecks simply worsens the situation. Given the serious challenges in education, our problems are systemic and tackling them requires a thoughtful and multi-faceted approach. The new curriculum requires that extra classrooms and teachers would be needed, but many schools are still in limbo as far as their expansion plans are concerned. Make no mistake, the ministry did an excellent job in analysing the curriculum and evaluating it to make it easier for learners to access technical or vocational training opportunities at an early age. But the underlying issue here remains that there was seemingly no well-thought-out plan when it comes to implementation. Clearly, there are fears regarding the newly developed curriculum and the question remains whether it will be able to inspire the education sector, which wants all Namibian children by 2022 to have a secure foundation and equitable and inclusive quality education, in order for learners to pursue higher education.