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School Curriculum Reform | A much-needed change

2 years ago

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By Sarah Hannan The necessity to reform the school curriculum to match the changing needs of the future world as well as the modern methods of education has become the need of the hour. Just last week, Minister of Education Prof. G.L. Peiris announced that the present teacher-centred education system practised in Sri Lanka needs to change. Prof. Peiris has called for school heads, teachers, education directors, parents, and civil organisations to contribute their suggestions on how the curriculum could be amended or remodelled to match today’s standards. We contacted the National Institute of Education (NIE) regarding this issue since it is tasked with designing and developing school curricular and building capacity in educational managers, teacher trainers, and teachers. While the switch from the current method of education – i.e. teacher-centric and examination oriented education – will take place in a gradual manner, the gathering of input from various stakeholders will take place over the next few weeks. Speaking to The Sunday Morning, NIE Director General Dr. Sunil Jayantha Nawarathna said that suggestions will be gathered through a committee that will be appointed at the divisional secretariat level, which is then to be forwarded to the district education offices. “Once the suggestions reach the district office, we will have meetings with each district education office and draft a proposed school curriculum reform paper. We are looking at completing this by December and the draft is to be ready by January 2021,” Dr. Nawarathna explained. Switching to skill-oriented learning The transition itself is not going to be an easy feat as the NIE stated that at first, the teachers will need to be trained to adjust to the new way of teaching. Ideally, from the time the draft school curriculum reforms are presented to the point the finalized curriculum and amendments to the textbooks and teacher guides are applied, teacher training is also to take place, which will need time spanning from 2021 to 2022. “Reforming the school curriculum is something that should take place routinely, as the needs of the workforce and the economy of the country are constantly changing. We can no longer have students who are completing school looking to seek a job only after they complete their higher studies. Students who complete 13 years in school should be able to start a job with minimum training,” Dr. Nawarathna elaborated. To achieve this new school curriculum, the old curriculum is to be changed into a more practical and skill-oriented one Therefore, the NIE is in the process of researching the new methods of education that are employed by other countries where the school curriculum is more student-centric. In order to encourage skill development in students, the curriculum will introduce group assignments, the objective of it being that students would develop collaborative skills and creative and critical thinking and utilize their theoretical knowledge in computer sciences to design presentations or dossiers. Dr. Nawarathna, explaining the importance of group assignment based learning, noted: “What will happen is that the teacher will give them guiding notes for assignments. But the group will have to identify the skills each member has and collaborate to present the end work. That will allow them to build many important skills and instil the right attitude on how to work in a competitive environment with the assistance of a team.” Focus on student development Further, the new curriculum will ensure that a student is assessed not only on their performance in the classroom, but also on the extracurricular activities they get involved in at school – for instance athletics, contact sports, scouting, cadetting, and school level social clubs and societies, to name a few. According to Dr. Nawarathna, this will encourage children to get involved in sports and societies without only focusing on their classroom studies. “Our aim is to produce citizens who are skilled overall, for example, who can apply their knowledge to a real-life situation to get the job done, and are able to positively contribute towards the economy, whilst being able to balance their time between work and other activities, such as sports, when required,” Dr. Nawarathna noted. The new curriculum that is to be designed in the coming years with its initial mission and vision at present, seems quite promising, as it would produce youth that are ready to take on the world, be it in a corporate or state institution that would require them to work with a team or as entrepreneurs who can establish their own businesses.

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