Nepal | November 14, 2019

National curriculum: Good in theory, not practice

Gita Subedi

Limited educational and employment opportunities in Nepal are among the factors driving Nepali students out of the country, although the national curriculum seeks to enhance independent and problem-solving approaches

 

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Curriculum is defined differently by different scholars based on their experiences and study. Different countries apply different types of curriculum to guide the future generation and society. A curriculum which specifies the learning standards of the learners in a systematic way is the reflection of that country. A curriculum is made to engage the learners in touching the human feelings and learning skills. Some countries are more focussed on an explicit curriculum while others also emphasise a hidden and null curriculum. Whatever the context, the curriculum guides the educational system and brain of a country. It matters because of its potential to impact the development of students and the nation.

 

Nepal has seen much progress over the decades, but most Nepali youths today lack employment opportunities. It is said: “Life is a curriculum unique to every student, where every child should be taught how to think, read and write”, but because of fragmentation in the political system, Nepal has become an important source of students for universities abroad. If a curriculum is functional and can integrate the experience and demand of the current society, it will definitely contribute towards the multifarious progress of a nation. It shapes the thought process of citizens and contributes in the overall development of a country.

During the curriculum designing process, national goals are developed, targeting the current and future generations. In the context of Nepal, the curriculum is theoretically well-designed, considering all the possibilities of the contextual society, where we find all the catchy words that it should ideally possess. The curriculum is well designed to explore the students’ creativity, criticality, collaboration and communication skills to meet the national vision. But, there is a huge gap between the theory and practice. There is no research on how many teachers actually understand and internalise the true meaning of its ultimate message. Misinterpretation and linguistic intelligence are being provoked. If someone speaks loudly and negatively, it is considered the true advocacy of the system. Instead of trying to materialise the concept into context, academicians are playing with words.

There are provisions in the local curriculum to help the learners in multiple ways for rural and urban transformation, which can be applied in different contexts and provide a platform to utilise the learnt skills, knowledge and attitude in the daily social as well as personal activities. However, the culture of blaming others is becoming a part and parcel of our lives.

Limited educational and employment opportunities in Nepal are among the factors driving Nepali students out of the country, although the national curriculum seeks to enhance independent and problem-solving approaches. There is a provision of optional subjects. There are opportunities for the teachers to devise a curriculum based on their own context. The continuous assessment system or tests encourage the practitioners to be creative and innovative in terms of assessment strategies and remedial teaching. But we are creating a dependent mentality from our schooling.

A child-friendly national framework and school sector development plan of the Government of Nepal also clearly articulate and giving opportunities to the teachers or educational leaders to make their learners competitive in the changing context. The Children’s Act and regulations, Educational Act and directives, national policies and strategic plans adopt international practices in our curriculum. To apply or adopt the best child-friendly strategies, activities and locally-available resources, there are no obstacles for the educators. But the implementation part is hardly seen in the community schools to a greater extent.

To respect the self-esteem of students, a lot of concepts related to child psychology and learning with fun are well integrated into the curriculum. For the integration of ICT into pedagogy, many alternatives are provided to the institutions. The competency of teachers is defined and is very scientific. In the capacity enhancement programmes also, project works are in place to enhance the learning of students. In essence, theoretically, the existing curriculum is meaningful and academic, but the ground reality is different.

The prerequisites for implementing the national curriculum are not sufficient in many aspects. There is no provision of a curricular programme audit in the country. A hidden or null curriculum is equally important in the making of a good citizen, but we are investing many schooling years in an explicit curriculum without considering the life skills of students. In such a situation, we are inviting a catastrophe in the country.

The new federal system is yet to be fully functional to realise the national curriculum to a great extent. Different organisations are using different types of contents, although the ultimate goal is the same. There is no effective monitoring system by those in authority. Despite the rhetoric, education reform is not a priority of the political parties although they want to see a prosperous nation. This, however, can happen when we create an environment where the youths can stay and work in the country. Only when our citizens are capable can they challenge and compete with other countries soon.


A version of this article appears in print on February 07, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


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