For some months now, there has been a lot of talk by the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service about the introduction of a new curriculum for Basic Schools in the country. Last week, the Director- General of the Ghana Education Service, Professor Kwasi Opoku- Amankwa launched the curriculum as part of the many reforms going on in the education sector. The new curriculum is to be used from September this year.
Among other things, the new syllabus is standards-based, which the president had earlier said was drawn based on best practices across the world. It is to be used by teachers who teach Kindergarten to Class 6 in Basic Schools across the nation.
When the president mentioned to the public that work was being put into drawing up a new syllabus at his third state of the Nation address, he said that the new curriculum will focus mainly on “making the Ghanaian child confident, innovative, creative –thinking, digitally- literate, well –rounded, patriotic citizens”.Again, the president emphasized that Mathematics, Science, Reading, Writing, and Creativity will be at the heart of the new curriculum.
At the launch, the Director –General listed some features that the new primary curriculum possesses. He employed stakeholders to note that at the Kindergarten level, the number of teaching areas is to be reduced from seven to four, which are to be integrated into themes.
Also, at the lower and Upper Primary levels, the number of subjects remain the same. But fewer concepts will be treated and there will be more in-depth treatment of concepts in each subject. There is also a greater emphasis on literacy and numeracy.
It was also stated that there will national assessments for pupils in Primary 2, 4 and 6 in order to ensure that the progress of children are being tracked. Then in the new curriculum, History of Ghana will be compulsory for pupils in Primary 1- 6.
Here are others: Religious and Moral will be a standalone subject, Physical Education will be a standalone subject and will be taught practically and French will be introduced at the Upper Primary.
As is usually the case with delicate issues, politicians on the opposite divide had their take and so did others and unfortunately, the opinions of lawmakers were based on the side they belonged to.
However, considering the opinion and needs of teachers, publishers, students, parents, and other stakeholders, the Director-General may want to answer these questions in order for everyone to understand and implement the curriculum in their own way so its well spelled out benefits can be derived.
- What changes have been made to ensure that the schools are equipped to cater to the demands of the new curriculum and beyond the training to familiarize with the curriculum, are teachers being introduced to new teaching methods that will make them efficient driving tools of the curriculum?
- What role is the Ghanaian parent/guardian or ward to play in making the Ghanaian child confident, innovative, creative –thinking, digitally- literate, well –rounded, patriotic citizens or these are going to be the sole responsibility of the tenets of the curriculum?
- Emphasis is going to be on Mathematics, Science, Reading, Writing and Creativity as said by the president. These, as research has shown and other countries have attested to, are only effective through practice. How is this being addressed?
- History is going to be a subject of study for P1-6 students. This is important because students need to be abreast with who they are to be confident. Language is another way of inculcating confidence, patriotism and even a strong channel to creativity and innovation. Ghanaian Language, therefore, needed to be addressed. French was however mentioned. Is French being prioritized over the Ghanaian Languages?
- Do Publishers and e-learning content providers have the new curriculum in order to be ready to provide students and teachers with the necessary reading and learning materials?
These questions are a sum of the worries expressed by the groups mentioned earlier. Regardless, it is good to note that P.E is going to be revamped because students no longer spend much time engaging in physical activities. P.E teachers will be given more respect and students will be healthier to study soundly. National Assessment for pupils in P2, 4 and 6 will help put teachers, parents and the students themselves on track where need be before taking the B.E.C.E exam.