The legacy of Durbar High School has been accepted as the de facto pattern of learning, where English is considered as the elite language most suitable as a teaching-learning medium, demeaning the possibility of 136 languages that we already have in our country. So our focus is still on the English language
The World Economic Forum (WEF) published a paper in 2019 focusing on the shift of learning content towards the needs of the future. It was categorised as Global Citizenship, Innovation and Creativity, Technology, and Interpersonal skills.
Based on these four key areas, I will be assessing the overall roadmap of the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) that has been trying to bring change in the educational arena as the process has already been executed from grades 1-3.
While the process is on to endorse changes in the higher levels also in a gradual mode, I would like to offer some suggestions in the development procedure as there is room to improve it in order to cope with the needs of tomorrow.
Looking at the existing pattern of the curriculum that we have been exercising in the school, it intends to create more factory workers to fill in the boxes.
The question that often appears is: "Does the curriculum allow us to reimagine, reframe or reinvent?"
Whether one likes it or not, the reality of COV- ID-19 has shifted the educational dimension drastically.
The students of today are different from those in the past, and the needs of today will not remain the same as those of yesterday.
In light of this situation, allow me to address some of the emerging concerns that the CDC has to consider for a better tomorrow through means, methods and modes.
Firstly, let us talk about the means. The priority sets our interest, and, unfortunately, we have failed to make education our priority.
Arun R. Joshi, director at the Centre for Human Assets at Institute for Integrated Development Studies, Kathmandu rightly says that Nepal has failed to realise the importance of education, investing only 3.7 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP)on education, compared to other developing nations such as Ethiopia, Senegal and Mozambique that have invested more.
One of the reasons why Nepal is not able to participate in global educational competitions is that the government has failed to prioritise education while allocating resources.
Most competitive economies have emphasised the importance of investing in education and human development as a 'national' priority. Even developed Asian nations such as Korea and Singapore had invested heavily in education to become highly competitive global economies of today.
How can we expect to produce quality manpower when the investment itself is very low? And how can we expect innovation when the system remains so rigid? Secondly, it is with the methods that we have been struggling with even though the CDC has been working for decades in improvising the methodology.
We have failed to address the constructivist reality in a changing global scenario.
Changing the curriculum from Grades 1 to 3 did not guarantee the transformation in pedagogy as teachers are not oriented according to the changes. Our focus remained on the content rather than on the process.
Teachers from the remote parts of Nepal have no idea why the textbooks are undergoing frequent changes, therefore, they continue with their traditional methods, even though they have the revised curriculum at hand.
Does this justify our objective? Certainly not!
With this, I would like to highlight the need for constructive pedagogy, which advocates creativity and diversity.
This would go in line with educationists Alan Pritchard and John Woollard who think that the learners are not just receivers; rather, they are the ones who make meaning out of knowledge.
Therefore, our methods should be inclined towards the students rather than the teacher as being the centre of the classroom.
Our content is more being with the product than being emancipatory in nature.
German philosopher Jürgen Habermas rightly frames three different human interests –technical, practical and emancipatory.
A question that is often posed in pedagogy is, if there is space for observation and experience where students can ask questions and offer her or his knowledge, too.
With COVID-19 having pushed pedagogy into a new dimension of teaching-learning, we are still not open to the constructive mode of learning. That remains a challenge to the teachers and the CDC.
Finally, I offer the mode of learning, which consists of both the language and culture. Let me begin with the example that Professor Bal Chandra Luitel gives of how the legacy of Durbar High School has been accepted as the de facto pattern of learning, where English is considered as the elite language most suitable as a teaching-learning medium, demeaning the possibility of 136 languages that we already have in our country. So our focus is still on English in the educational institutes. However, the attempt to construct 'Mero Serofero'from grades 1-3 is praiseworthy.
Another important framework that we can incorporate is the cultural mode.
Rameshower Aryal of Kathmandu University illustrates in his paper the use of local resources such as the nanglo, a flat round woven tray made of bamboo, to teach mathematical formulae.
One of the three areas of the concept of zone of proximal development (ZPD),developed by Soviet psychologist Leg Vygotsky, shows that, what learners observe from the learned world plays a significant role in bringing a change.
Therefore, the CDC needs to pay attention to the language and cultural mode while revising the curriculum at large.
A new insertion of STEAM pedagogy (science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), which is being fostered by Kathmandu University, may be able to provide some momentum to educational change in Nepal.
BC is pursuing his Master's degree in STEAM Education at Kathmandu University
A version of this article appears in the print on December 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.