Defining the curriculum content

Curriculum development is both a political and technical process. Given the importance of curriculum for society (i.e. from the point of view of its identity; development prospects; etc.), curriculum is a matter of public interest. Curriculum entails nevertheless technical aspects that are the responsibility of curriculum specialists (technicians). Curriculum specialists and specialized committees ought to work in synergy with the support of curriculum-specialized institutions1. Curriculum processes should benefit from extensive capacity development and sharing, as well as from the participation of relevant education agents and stakeholders.

Currently, all jurisdictions2 have written curricula that are laid down in different curriculum documents. The clearest and most successful curricula are described in curriculum frameworks which set subject curricula/ syllabuses in a wider structure. However, some jurisdictions described their curricula mainly through learning materials, such as textbooks; teacher guides; assessment guides. This makes curriculum transparent to education agents and stakeholders: everybody can see what is intended and required in terms of curriculum provisions and learning results. However, for the sake of coherence and consistency, learning materials, such as textbooks, should be developed in line with the broader curriculum perspective that is usually defined in a curriculum framework.

Curriculum content is another main lever of education quality. The knowledge, skills and attitudes imparted by learning areas/subjects, cross-cutting approaches and extra-curricular activities is a main source of systematic and comprehensive learning. While learners may learn from many other different sources (especially in an informal way from the Media and Internet), curriculum’s advantages in structuring and sequencing learning represents a major asset for sustainable acquisitions that ought to be well exploited and capitalized on.

Given the many perspectives on learning and achievement that may exist in a society, defining the appropriate content of the curriculum is very often a source of tensions. However, it may also become an occasion for working together on consensus building.

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