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Feedback on curriculum analysis in Tanzania

As part of our Basic Education portfolio, Twaweza is undertaking a rigorous process of curriculum analysis in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. This work stems from what we hypothesized to be one of the core problems associated with low learning outcomes in the three countries: in public primary schools, the curriculum is often much ahead of children’s actual learning levels. Particularly in the early grades (Grades 1-3) the curriculum is overloaded with a range of subjects, rather than focusing on basic competencies as well as cognitive skills that children will need to master in order to thrive in the upper grades. 

Curriculum reform is not new in East Africa, in fact, the three countries have undergone various reform processes in recent years. Tanzania’s first national vision for the curriculum was set out in 1967, based on the philosophy of “education for self-reliance.” Since then, several reviews and reforms of the curriculum were undertaken, variously influenced by political currents, as well as trends in international education (e.g. alignment with the international Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goals). Most recently, a new Education and Training Policy was released in 2014.

At Twaweza, we wanted to bring a new approach to curriculum analysis, innovative for the Tanzanian context in four main ways:

  1. based on rigorous, technical analysis using internationally-recognized methods of and tools for curriculum analysis
  2. conducted through a participatory process including a range of education stakeholders
  3.  measuring not only the theoretical but also the applied curriculum – i.e. tracing the arch of what is planned to be taught in the curriculum, what is actually taught in classrooms, and also what is tested in the national exams
  4. including a significant number of people at the front line of service delivery – the teachers and head teachers 

The three countries are in various phases of implementation of the curriculum analysis, and this work is described elsewhere (Curriculum Efficiency Concept Note). This memo focuses on a feedback component conducted in Tanzania. We wished to know from the people involved in the curriculum analysis what they thought of the process itself, of their participation in it, whether it is meaningful to their own work and whether they perceive it to be meaningful to curriculum reform in Tanzania

Methodology 

This feedback exercise included interviews with education stakeholders who comprised the panel of experts for the review work and interviews with a sample of 40 teachers involved in the curriculum analysis process. From the panel of experts, 7 out of 8 individuals that composed the panel were interviewed. 

Key Findings 

  1. Respondents all praised the thoroughness of the analysis process – from the review of documents, to training, to preparation of tools, to the analysis itself.
  2. The lecturers saw direct benefits from the analytical process to their own teaching, since they teach curriculum analysis as a subject in their coursework.
  3. For nearly all teachers this exercise was the first time they had a chance to speak openly in a group of peers not only about the curriculum, but also about their experiences with the current curriculum, their teaching practices and the challenges that they face.
  4. The respondents were quite critical as to the current processes by which they are expected to deliver the curriculum.
  5. Many commented that the analysis exercise reminded them of various training that they received in teachers’ college, but were never able to put into practice (such as class discussion and group work).
  6. The experts were also clear that the results need to be communicated effectively in order to influence policy.

You can read the full brief here and the full report here.

Read more: analysis curriculum learning Twaweza

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Organizations: Twaweza East Africa

Pages: 6

Type: Policy brief

Year: 2017

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