DEVELOPMENTS AND CHALLENGES IN THE DESIGN, IMPLEMENTATION AND FOLLOW-UP OF CURRICULUM REFORM
While the capacity of CDC to handle complex tasks is clearly improving, the capacity to plan and to develop hu- man resources has certain constraints due to the rate of staff changeovers. This makes the institutionalization of curriculum development design processes very difficult. These staff changes are at all professional and administra- tive levels of the organization.
The same changes create problems of continuity and liaison with other organizations connected with the implementation process. These institutions—District Education Offices, Regional Education Offices, OCE and SEDEC—also have high staff instability.
There are very few formalized follow-up activities, except by the SEDP BME Unit. These are mainly con- cerned with project evaluation.
REFORMING THE CURRICULUM WITH SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON SOCIAL STUDIES
As described earlier all core curricula and many optional subjects have been changed in recent years. In the devel- opment of all core curricula there has been tension be- tween traditionalists and modernists, as well as between nationalists and those in favour of globalization or wider horizons—those who speak for ‘our values’ and those who speak of ‘global values’. Balancing these diverse views is a problem for all curriculum developers. No cur- riculum subject can avoid these controversies. While in science and mathematics the debate is narrower, in Eng- lish and Nepali there are different dimensions due to the source of each individual language. Both of the two newer subjects—social studies and HPE—have proved to be controversial in different ways (see Figure 2).
Translating the goals, general objectives and specific objectives of the social studies curriculum into a useful textbook proved difficult. Although there are many dimensions to the discussion, the fundamental debate concerns whether education is about passing knowledge or learning skills—or what is the balance between the
two. Members of the subject committee did not always agree with those who set the framework for developing the new textbook, creating what is hopefully a creative tension.
Those setting the framework for developing the new textbook felt that the following factors are all important in the writing of a new style textbook: Each chapter should have clearlythought-out learn- ing outcomes. These will include not only factual information for knowledge and understanding, but specific skills such as interpreting a bar chart, locat- ing places of historical importance, presenting an argument in favour of a certain course of action and collecting local data. The earlier textbooks mostly contained only factual information, followed by recall questions. The new textbook must present information in different forms (text, statistics, pictures, photographs, diagrams, graphs and charts, maps, newspaper items, source documents) and provide challenging questions to help students understand, interpret, analyze and eval- uate the information. The textbook must include many project-related activities, starting with simple tasks, and moving towards longer projects. This will mean that most of the work studied has a local component and thus is of genuine relevance to the students. It will also mean that students can experience research activities, gain- ing practical investigation and analytical skills, and learning to present their findings. It will also help them to work together co-operatively. The students should be able to see what skills they are learning in each chapter and gain a sense of achievement and progress towards the school-leav- ing certificate (SLC). This may be done with a sum- mary of chapters or topics. The exercises given in the textbook will not only test knowledge and under- standing, but will expect analysis and evaluation of the information, and well-thought-out answers. They will also need to encourage the practice of practical skills and abilities. This will provide practice for new SLC-type questions.