Curriculum development

Curriculum in the simplest terms, is a description of what, why, how, and when students should learn. The curriculum is not, of course, an end in itself. Rather, it seeks both to achieve worthwhile and useful learning outcomes for students, and to realize a range of societal demands and government policies. It is in and through the curriculum that key economic, political, social, and cultural questions about the aims, purposes, content, and processes of education are resolved. The policy statement and technical document that represent the curriculum reflects also a broader political and social agreement about what a society deems most worthy –that which is of sufficient importance to pass on to its children (Stabback, 2016).

A quality curriculum is assumed to include many dimensions of learning, including rationale, aims, content, methods, resources, time, assessment, among others. It also refer to various levels of planning and decision-making on  learning (for  example, at the supra-, macro-, meso-, micro- and nano-levels corresponding to the international, national, local, classroom and individual levels). Curriculum can be understood as the totality of what children learn  while being at school –including what they learn through classroom activities, in interdisciplinary tasks, across the school, for example, in the playground, at lunch time when eating, among others. This curricular totality hence also includes opportunities for wider achievements which can be done through sports, music, debating, and others (Stabback, 2016).

A research conducted by UNESCO-IBE points out that real learning requires genuine engagement. To learn well, students need consciously to make connections between known and new knowledge and skills, to apply the newly acquired knowledge and skills to reality or simulated situations, and to value what they have learned by being active participants in the learning process.

A good quality curriculum encourages and expects students to (Stabback, 2016):

  • understand the purpose of classroom activities and participate actively in them;
  • know what they will learn and why, what the expectations of them are, and how they will know that they have learnt well;
  • be open to new ideas;
  • be curious and willing to ask questions;
  • raise what they take for granted to the level of conscious critical scrutiny;
  • engage in assessing their own and other students’ learning;
  • as well as learning the content and associated skills, understand how they accomplished this and try to become better learners; and
  • support and respect other students’ efforts to learn.

Strategies surrounding the following aspects should be considered:

  1. Development of the curriculum: a sustainable, inclusive, and consultative curriculum development should be led by curriculum professionals in a planned and systematic manner.
  2. Curriculum content: the content of the curriculum needs to be well organised and structured and should be underpinned by a set of assumptions about how children learn. It should comprise high quality, relevant, appropriate content, which contributes to the development of competence. The curriculum needs to value each child equally.
  3. Implementation of the curriculum: the expectations for a proper implementation lays on all stakeholders, which include students, teachers, schools, the learning environment, education systems and related authorities.
  4. Curriculum Evaluation: the evaluation needs to be done regularly, by qualified, and experienced people in a systematic and planned manner.
References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education); IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. Education for peace: planning for curriculum reform; guidelines for integrating an Education for Peace curriculum into education sector plans and policies. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233601

Muskin, J.A. 2015. Student learning assessment and the curriculum: issues and implications for policy, design and implementation. IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources/ipr1-muskin-assessmentcurriculum_eng.pdf

Stabback, P. 2016. What makes a quality curriculum? Current and critical issues in the curriculum and learning. Geneva: UNESCO-IBE. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243975

Promising policy options

Early childhood education

Regular preschool participation from ages 4 to 5 has a significant impact on children’s school readiness levels at age 5+, with the quality of preschool education emerging as a key factor in enhancing school readiness levels. School readiness at age 5+ is associated significantly with learning outcomes in early primary grades, especially in language and mathematics. On average, children’s school readiness levels at age 5 are far below expected levels. Most children participate in institutions that are of low quality and fail to use age-appropriate methods, materials, and activities. Children thus enter school unequipped with the cognitive, pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills and conceptual understanding necessary to meet the demands of the primary school curriculum. The gap between what children can do and what is expected of them appears early and widens rapidly as children progress from one grade to another (ASER 2012).

Incorporating learning through play

Play sets the foundation for the development of critical social and emotional knowledge and skills. Through play, children learn to forge connections with others, and to share, negotiate and resolve conflicts, as well as learn self-advocacy skills. Play also teaches children leadership as well as group skills. Furthermore, play is a natural tool that children can use to build their resilience and coping skills, as they learn to navigate relationships and deal with social challenges as well as conquer their fears, for example through re-enacting fantasy heroes. (UNICEF 2018).

For example, while children are playing, they can try out new social skills (e.g. sharing toys, agreeing on how to work together with materials), and they often take on some challenging cognitive tasks (such as figuring out how to make a building with smaller blocks when the larger ones are not available). Children are ‘hands-on’ learners. They acquire knowledge through playful interaction with objects and people.

By playing with geometric blocks they understand the concept that two squares can form a rectangle and two triangles can form a square. From dancing a pattern such as a step forward, step back twirl, clap, and repeat, they begin to understand the features of patterns that are the foundation for mathematics.

Pretend or ‘symbolic’ play (such as playing house or market) is especially beneficial: in such play, children express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, learn how to control their emotions, interact with others, resolve conflicts and gain a sense of competence (UNICEF 2018).

Sufficient financing for implementing education through play

Financing for appropriate learning materials, equipment and professional supports that promote play does not need to be costly but does need to promote relevance and diversity in scope. For example, nationally relevant, low-cost materials can be explored as governments develop pre-primary learning resource packages for each classroom.

For example, in Senegal, UNICEF supported the development of a local preschool classroom kit of play and learning resources (modelled after the ECD kit for emergency settings) ensuring the use of local toys, games and other resources that promote playtime.

Provide clear, user-friendly curriculum implementation guides for teachers and managers

Service providers and teachers will be requiring user-friendly curriculum guides that describe what to do and why. They will likewise require adequate training to use these materials.

Teacher training should be supplemented with resources that are simple to follow and adhere to, which could also be day-to-day implementation guides. Teachers also require regular support and supervision for the effective implementation of education through play.

When curriculum training is combined with implementation guides and resources, teachers gain the capacity to implement a balance of teacher-guided and free-play learning activities.

References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2018. Learning through play. Strengthening learning through play in early childhood education programmes. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/UNICEF-Lego-Foundation-Learning-through-Play.pdf

Kaul, V.; Bhattacharjea, S.; Chaudhary, A. B.; Ramanujan, P.; Banerji, M.; Nanda, M. 2017. The India Early Childhood Education Impact Study. New Delhi: UNICEF(United Nations Children’s Fund). Retrieved from: http://img.asercentre.org/docs/Research%20and%20Assessments/Current/ Education/Research%20Projects/IECEIStudyReport2017.pdf

Making inclusive, context-based and human-rights-based content

Curriculum should be inclusive. It is essential to strive for a gender-responsive curricula, which highlights different points of view. It should also take into account cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity.

Ensuring a representative participation in curriculum development is key. For instance, countries should strive to involve in the process indigenous and minority populations, women, persons with disabilities, among others.

Moreover, the involvement of key stakeholders from every level (national, regional and school-level) should be sought to ensure the curriculum is context-based, adapted to children’s reality and relevant to children’s lives (Adebayo, 2019; Mwoma and Pillay, 2015). For example, in China, curriculum development involves the central government, local authorities as well as school representatives. At the national level, curriculum standards are set as well as a national-level curriculum and lesson hours. At the provincial level, local authorities translate the objectives of the national curriculum into a local curriculum which fits their local context. At the school level, schools are encouraged to provide feedback about the curriculum’s implementation. They can also encourage teachers to develop their own courses according to the provincial plan (Adebayo, 2019).

*For more refer to the Equity Issues of this Policy page.

References
Adebayo, B.R. 2019. ‘Curriculum and Textbook Program Development Provision Comparison In China, Mexico, The Caribbean And Nigeria: The Way Forward’. In: Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 2039. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=3810

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education); IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. Education for peace: planning for curriculum reform; guidelines for integrating an Education for Peace curriculum into education sector plans and policies. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233601

IIEP-UNESCO. Learning Portal. 2019. Curriculum and expected learning outcomes. Accessed 3 August 2019: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/issue-briefs/improve-learning/curriculum-and-materials/curriculum-and-expected-learning-outcomes

Mwoman, T.; Pillay, J. 2015. ‘Psychosocial support for orphans and vulnerable children in public primary schools: Challenges and intervention strategies.’ In: South African Journal of Education, 35 (3), 1-9. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=604

UNESCO. 2007. Gender bias in textbooks: a hidden obstacle on the road to gender equality in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001555/155509e.pdf

UNESCO. 2016g. Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development; Global Education Monitoring Report: Policy paper 28. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002467/246777E.pdf

UNESCO. 2016h. UNESCO guidebook on textbook research and textbook revision. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001171/117188E.pdf

UNESCO. 2017c. Making textbook content inclusive: a focus on religion, gender, and culture. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002473/247337e.pdf

UNESCO; APCEIU (Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding). 2017. Global Citizenship Education: A Guide for Policymakers. Seoul: APCEIU. Retrieved from: https://www.bridge47.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/global_citizenship_education_guide_for_policy_makers.pdf

Incorporating peace education into the curriculum  

Encouraging peace education which addresses cognitive and affective advances in children, and emphasizes the development of values that lead to behavioral change is imperative to incorporate into the curriculum. This also assists students in learning non-violent ways of resolving disputes.

Some of the approaches to promote peace are through problem-solving and conflict resolution or management, tolerance, respect, prejudice reduction, and non-discrimination, and rights and responsibilities.

For example, countries that seem to model best practices are Sri Lanka and Burundi. The goals of Sri Lanka’s program, Education for Conflict Resolution (with UNICEF), are to create attitudes of tolerance as well as understanding and methods of nonviolent conflict resolution. In Burundi, more than half of primary school teachers are trained to carry out peace education activities. In Sri-Lanka, schools have adopted meditation into their curriculum, the aim is to calm and concentrate the mind to create a sense of inner peace.

References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 1996. The State of the World’s Children. World Wide Version. Retrieved from:  https://www.unicef.org/sowc96/fsrlanka.htm

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Curriculum development for quality teaching and learning: a global report on leading curriculum motivations. Complementary Additional Programme 2014-2015. Concept Note. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/system/files/Curriculum%20development%20for%20quality%20teaching%20and%20learning_0.pdf

Lubin, I.A. 2016. Intentional ICT: Curriculum, education and development. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources/wpci-17-ict_curriculum_eng.pdf

PTM Marope. 2015. Prospects: An increasing focus on curriculum, learning, and assessment. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs11125-015-9359-9.pdf

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education); IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. Education for peace: planning for curriculum reform; guidelines for integrating an Education for Peace curriculum into education sector plans and policies. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233601

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2017. Training tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from:   https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000250420_eng?posInSet=6&queryId=dab9d9dc-dbda-4f17-b003-ad80a0fb5c70

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2000. Curriculum and Learning. Education Update. Retrieved from:  https://www.unicef.org/french/education/files/edu.pdf

Curriculum Review, Integration, Assessment, and Evaluation

The effective evaluation of a curriculum incorporates examining and making judgments on the value of what is taught and learned in the light of pre-set national and international standards.

A good quality curriculum is one that is evaluated based on a clear purpose and scope. The evaluation should also take place at different levels in the education system, such as classroom, school, the local area and nationally. The evaluation would need to be done regularly, using valid and reliable data and within a clear quality framework.

A well-integrated curriculum would need to be responsive to emerging issues as they arise. Some examples of emerging issues are Life Skills approaches, HIV/AIDS prevention, Environment Education, Peace Education, or Education for Development. It will often be necessary to incorporate new agendas into the curriculum as time passes. (UNICEF 2000)

Finally, the reviewing process of the curriculum should be cyclic in nature. A good quality curriculum development is an on-going and continuous process, which responds to the constant change.  

Student Assessment and feedback, Teaching and Teacher Education

The value of the curriculum also consists of how the teacher teaches and makes links with what children already know. Direct improvement of teaching and learning at the classroom level can contribute to better learning outcomes, even in the face of a less than optimal curriculum.

Teacher education and professional development need to include a curriculum development focus that helps teachers understand both curricula content and the processes involved in supporting learning (e.g., how to teach reading and writing and how to assess student learning). Likewise, assessing the students’ ability to perform specific learning outcomes needs to be viewed as a tool that helps teachers to know whether learning is occurring or not.

Students learn best when teachers provide feedback on their learning process through continuous assessment of where each learner is in his or her development. Teachers should have a good understanding of what each student’s learning capabilities are so that they can provide constructive feedback to each student. Effective feedback to students on their learning entails the provision of information about what they do and do not understand, and what they need to do to improve.

Note that assessment is more than testing children’s understanding. It also involves assessing the entire educational system’s ability to provide learning opportunities for children.

Finally, the curriculum development process is most effective when learning outcomes and performance standards are established first and then linked to what teachers must do to ensure that learning takes place. In order to achieve this, it is important to establish clear learning outcomes, which should describe they should be observable in the course of classroom life through a variety of mechanisms (for more information consult Policy page Student learning assessments).

References
Stabback, P. 2016. What makes a quality curriculum? Current and critical issues in the curriculum and learning. Geneva: UNESCO-IBE. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243975

UNICEF. 2000. Curriculum and Learning. Education Update. Retrieved from:  https://www.unicef.org/french/education/files/edu.pdf

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2017. Training tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from:   https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000250420_eng?posInSet=6&queryId=dab9d9dc-dbda-4f17-b003-ad80a0fb5c70

UNESCO. 2015. Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for creating inclusive, learning-friendly environments. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001829/182975e.pd

Tiven, M. B.; Fuchs, E. R.; Bazari, A.; MacQuarrie, A. 2018. Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework. New York: Bloomberg Philanthropies and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/Evaluating-Global-Digital-Education-Student-Outcomes-Framework.pdf

Muskin, J.A. 2015. Student learning assessment and the curriculum: issues and implications for policy, design and implementation. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235489

Other policy options

Digital exchange for comparing different curriculum

The internet has been established as a major tool for effective teaching, learning and for exchange of ideas. Curriculum planners can use the internet to upload, share, and compare different curriculum, nationally and/or internationally.

For example, the Library in the Sky contains over 15,000 links in total, which also include teacher resources and guides available; The Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development platform, which empowers educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged; or the Teacher Cast Educational Network, which is a platform used by teachers to help and engage other teachers.

A curriculum is necessary to provide a substantive basis for student communication in the digital classroom. Successful curricula take full advantage of technology and enables students and teachers to share ideas and information with their international peers. By completing the same activities and considering the same questions, classes in different countries gain shared knowledge and experiences and are able to discuss different perspectives on common topics (Tiven et al., 2018).

Digital exchange programs should provide teachers with training to inspire and equip them to succeed in leading this work. This can be attained by using informational videos or written guides, supplemented by discussion boards for teachers and related staff. Another way is to use interactive videoconferences. The live experience has the advantage of building community through peer consultation.

Resource Allocation for better implementation of the curriculum

Many education systems and authorities adopt flexible approaches and allow schools some autonomy in deciding how much time should be allocated to each subject or learning area. This is often a requirement of and facilitates the development of a good quality formal curriculum.

Education authorities should ensure that there are adequate resources and equipment available and that they are distributed equitably. This may frequently mean allocating resources unequally. For example, additional resourcing may be necessary to provide compensatory education for particular groups in society who might be disadvantaged on account of history, disability, gender, their socio-economic status,  their ethnicity or cultural background,  or where they live –whether in difficult urban or deeply rural environments.

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2017. Training tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from:   https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000250420_eng?posInSet=6&queryId=dab9d9dc-dbda-4f17-b003-ad80a0fb5c70

UNICEF. 2000. Curriculum and Learning. Education Update. Retrieved from:  https://www.unicef.org/french/education/files/edu.pdf

Muskin, J.A. 2015. Student learning assessment and the curriculum: issues and implications for policy, design and implementation. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235489

Tiven, M. B.; Fuchs, E. R.; Bazari, A.; MacQuarrie, A. 2018. Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework. New York: Bloomberg Philanthropies and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/Evaluating-Global-Digital-Education-Student-Outcomes-Framework.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

Develop gender-responsive curricula

Ministries of Education and all relevant stakeholders involved in curriculum design and development must ensure that new curricula are not only free of gender-bias, but most importantly, it is used to challenge gender roles and stereotypes in society (UNESCO, 2018). This can be done by developing gender-responsive curricula. A gender-responsive curriculum acknowledges the existence of gender norms, roles, and relations, and actively tackles down their harmful effects (GPE and UNGEI, 2017).

Policies on curriculum design and development include a participatory process with important stakeholders and gender experts, with curricula designed in view of available resources.

As well, gender-responsive content should be:

  • age-appropriate and culturally relevant (essential to choose the most pertinent way to present certain areas of content);
  • provides positive and more expansive concepts of masculinity;
  • highlights consent and healthy communication;
  • questions and challenges societal gender norms and power dynamics;
  • provides characteristics of positive relationships;
  • discusses personal, familial and societal norms of sexual behaviour, health, and rights. For example, the Health Action Schools project in Bangladesh, developed in more than 700 schools, actively engaged children in health and sexual education (INEE, 2010). Sweden has a ‘long-established curriculum that teaches sexuality in the context of its psychological, ethical and social dimensions and personal relationships, and supports the equal sharing of sexual decision-making by girls and boys’ (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015: 42);
  • informs children about menstruation as a natural development process and tackles negative attitudes and misconceptions towards it (e.g. the initiative Dignity Period in Ethiopia, for more information, consult their website https://www.dignityperiod.org.); and
  • informs children about all forms of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV), including violence against LGBTIQ populations. It also informs children about how to access reporting structures within schools and the larger community.

Finally, curriculum delivery should follow these guidelines:

  • training of motivated teachers to teach gender-responsive curriculum should use participatory pedagogical methods;
  • it should follow a community-integrated approach; and
  • it must ensure all instructional materials, such as textbooks, handouts, and workbooks, are gender-responsive (for more information consult Policy page Textbook availability and content).

There is a multitude of entry points:

  • comprehensive sexuality education;
  • HIV education;
  • life skills education;
  • civics education;
  • Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): teach children about non-violent behaviours, and break gender stereotypes and norms since an early age; and
  • school-based clubs: Create ‘safe-spaces’ –environments in which students feel both physically and emotionally secure (e.g. Girl empowerment clubs, co-curricular activities) – led by well-trained facilitators.
References
GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans. Washington D.C.: The Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/guidance-developing-gender-responsive-education-sector-plans

Haberland, N. et al. 2009. It’s all one curriculum: Guidelines and activities for a unified approach to sexuality, gender, HIV and human rights education. New York: Population Council. Retrieved from: https://www.popcouncil.org/uploads/pdfs/2011PGY_ItsAllOneGuidelines_en.pdf

Leach, F.; Dunne, M.; Salvi, F. 2014. A global review of current issues and approaches in policy, programming and implementation responses to School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) for the Education Sector. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/HIV-AIDS/pdf/SRGBV_UNESCO_Global_ReviewJan2014.pdf

RTI International. 2015a. A guide for strengthening gender equality and inclusiveness in teaching and learning materials. Washington D.C.: U.S. Agency for International Development. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/srgbv/files/gender_responsive_ECCN.pdf

UNESCO, UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2015. Gender and EFA 2000-2015, Achievements and Challenges: Gender Summary. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/234809E.pdf

UNESCO. 2009b. International technical guidance on sexuality education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002607/260770e.pdf

UNESCO. 2016c. Global guidance on addressing school-related gender-based violence. Paris: UNESCO.  Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002466/246651E.pdf

UNESCO. 2018. Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Meeting our commitments to gender equality in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000261593?posInSet=7&queryId=d9c1c9db-c2d7-4f64-a94f-f13dc872d3a4

Review existent curriculum

Periodically review the curriculum to guarantee it does not perpetuate gender stereotypes and perform pertinent modifications to make it gender-responsive (e.g. countries such as Bangladesh, Chad, Ghana, Guinea, and Nepal have supported large education initiatives to eliminate gender-bias from curricula (UNESCO and UNGEI, 2015).).  

Include a curriculum’s gender-review within a curriculum reform. To do this, establish a specialized committee, as was the case in South Sudan a specialized committee performed the curriculum review to make it gender-sensitive (South Sudan, n.d.).), ensuring the Committee is gender-balanced, involving gender-experts, and when gender-experts are not available, train the curriculum developers to mainstream gender and produce gender-responsive curricula (For example, in Viet Nam, 104 curriculum developers –34 men and 70 women– were trained to mainstream gender (UNESCO, 2017).). When nationwide review efforts are not deemed possible, encourage school members to work together to make their own adaptations to the curriculum (Frei and Leowinata, 2014).

Perform a gender analysis before the review and modification process, which requires an in-depth historical and sociological unpacking of national curricular norms, as well as a recognition (if not deconstruction) of the various male and female forms of knowledge and their representations in curricula’ (Marshall and Arnot, 2008:14).

Ensure a participatory process with important stakeholders. Ministries of education should enhance the support and engagement of multiple stakeholders to ensure that modifications are accepted by the community (INEE, 2010). A sharp contrast between the new content and the belief system can lead to unintended outcomes, such as high dropout rates (Munawar, 2004). Make sure women are encouraged to participate throughout the process. This usually involves:

  • members from School Management Committees (SMC);
  • community and religious leaders;
  • teachers (Teachers Union);
  • research centers and Universities; and
  • gender experts.
References
Frei, S.; Leowinata, S. 2014. Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit for Teachers and Teacher Educators. Burnaby: Commonwealth of Learning. Retrieved from: https://www.rosavzw.be/digidocs/dd-000656_2014_Gender_Mainstreaming_Toolkit_for_Teachers_and_Teacher_Educators_CoL.pdf

GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans. Washington D.C.: The Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/guidance-developing-gender-responsive-education-sector-plans

INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies). 2010. Gender Equality in and through Education: INEE Pocket Guide to Gender. Geneva: INEE. Retrieved from: https://toolkit.ineesite.org/resources/ineecms/uploads/1009/INEE_Pocket_Guide_to_Gender_EN.pdf

Marshall, H.; Arnot, M. 2008. Globalising the School Curriculum: Gender, EFA and Global Citizenship Education. RECOUP Working Paper No. 17. Cambridge: RECOUP (Research Consortium on Educational Outcomes and Poverty). Retrieved from: http://ceid.educ.cam.ac.uk/publications/WP17-MA.pdf

Munawar, M. 2004. Gender Analysis of School Curriculum and Text Books. Islamabad: UNESCO Office. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000216890

South Sudan. n.d. Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Girls’ Education Strategy for South Sudan 2015-2017. Juba: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Retrieved from:  http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/planipolis/files/ressources/south_sudan_girls_education_strategy.pdf

UNESCO, UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2015. Gender and EFA 2000-2015, Achievements and Challenges: Gender Summary. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/234809E.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. Evaluation of UNESCO’s Programme Interventions on Girls’ and Womens’ Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000258978?posInSet=22&queryId=df97886c-2701-4a75-bfdb-46986e8ebf8e

UNESCO. 2018. Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Meeting our commitments to gender equality in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000261593?posInSet=7&queryId=d9c1c9db-c2d7-4f64-a94f-f13dc872d3a4

Teacher education curriculum

Planning must take into consideration the time and resources needed to review teacher training and education curricula, and to train or retrain teachers (e.g. Nigeria updated its teacher education curriculum in 2012 to address gender issues (UNESCO, 2018).). Comprehensive institutional reforms of Teacher Training Institutes would be needed to mainstream gender throughout their offer (for more information consult Policy page Teacher content knowledge). Teacher Training Institutions should ensure teachers get in-depth gender-responsive knowledge, skills, and attitudes, help teachers to recognize gender-issues in the current curricula (both formal and hidden), and provide them the necessary skills and knowledge to rectify them within the classrooms (UNESCO, 2015).

*For more information consult Policy page Classroom practices.

References
UNESCO. 2015. A Guide for Gender Equality in Teacher Education Policy and Practices. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000231646/

UNESCO. 2018. Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Meeting our commitments to gender equality in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000261593?posInSet=7&queryId=d9c1c9db-c2d7-4f64-a94f-f13dc872d3a4

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Inclusive curriculum

Ministries of Education should ensure that a common core curriculum is provided to all students –instead of applying a separate one for children with disabilities and special needs (IBE-UNESCO, 2016; UNESCO, 2009c; UNICEF, 2014a; Vrasmas, 2014). Core curricula should:

  • emphasize academics, as well as life skills, social development, and practical skills;
  • ‘address the child’s cognitive, emotional and created development, and be based on the four pillars of education for the 21st century –learning to know, to do, to be and to live together’ (UNICEF, 2014a:41); and
  • provide quality education for all students: Inclusive classrooms give access to a wider curriculum and provide more time on academic instruction than segregated specialized settings (UNICEF, 2014a). Yet, the core curriculum must accessible and flexible to ensure quality education for all (see below).

Ministries of Education and all relevant stakeholders involved in the curricula’s design, development, review, and modification, must ensure that it is inclusive. An inclusive curriculum promotes the values and principles of inclusive education and is used to build inclusive, equitable societies. These usually are curriculums which:

  • recognizes and embraces diversity;
  • respects the principles of non-discrimination and tolerance; and
  • recognizes every child’s potential and the right to learn.

Breaks negative stereotypes and encourages positive attitudes towards children with disabilities, among others (UNESCO, 2009c). For instance, one of the various positive outcomes of the curriculum reform in Canberra, Australia, was the improved relationships between children with and without disabilities (UNESCO and EFA GMR, n.d.).

An inclusive curriculum is flexible. A flexible curriculum allows teachers to implement curriculum differentiation, adjusting its content and instructional strategies to fit pupil’s individual needs, abilities and learning styles (UNESCO, 2009c; UNESCO, 2004; Vrasmas, 2014). An inclusive curriculum moves away from rote learning into child-centred, interactive, experience-based teaching and learning approach (UNESCO, 2009c) (for more information on Inclusive pedagogy consult Policy page Classroom practice).

A flexible curriculum also allows teachers to act as facilitators instead of instructors (IBE-UNESCO, 2016) by encouraging students to have an adaptable time-frame to accomplish skills at different periods. Individual Education Plans might be deemed necessary, as is the case with strategies implemented in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Malta. In some of them the implementation of IEP for children with disabilities is required by law (Hayes and Bulat, 2017; Vrasmas, 2014).) For more information consult Policy page Individual learning needs.

Finally, individual progress and formative assessments are encouraged (to learn more about inclusive assessment methods, consult Policy page Student learning assessments).

An inclusive curriculum should also be accessible. Curriculum content should be represented through multiple means within the classrooms (Universal Design for Learning) (UNICEF, 2014-Webinar 11). The following alternatives can be implemented: ‘(a) modifications (e.g. computer responses instead of oral responses, enlarging the print), (b) substitutions (e.g. Braille for written material), (c) omissions (omitting very complex work), and (d) compensations (e.g. speech therapy, mobility and orientation)’ (Vrasmas, 2014: 338).

An inclusive curriculum ensures appropriate and accessible teaching and learning materials are available in the classroom (UNESCO, 2009c) (for more information consult Policy pages: Textbook availability and content; Availability of teaching aids; and, Teacher guides and lesson plans).

An inclusive curriculum should be implemented since early childhood (for more information consult Policy page School readiness). Ministries of Education should involve parents and other relevant stakeholders throughout the development or review process, and ensure the inclusive curriculum is context-based. For example, Papua New Guinea designed a new inclusive curriculum, with the support of Australian Aid. Yet, it was widely criticized for not being grounded on school, local and national needs. As a result, stakeholders did not adopt many of its precepts (Le Fanu, 2013, cited by Howgego, Miles and Myers, 2014).

Ensure stakeholders’ views are integrated while reviewing or developing a new curriculum (teachers, school leaders, and SMC, parents, community, Disability People’s Organizations DPOs, children with disabilities, among others).

References
Alquraini, T.; Gut, D. 2012. ‘Critical components of successful inclusion of students with severe disabilities’. In: International Journal of Special Education, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 42-59. Retrieved from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ979712.pdf

Hayes, A. M.; Bulat, J. 2017. Disabilities Inclusive Education Systems and Policies Guide for Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3768/rtipress.2017.op.0043.1707

Howgego, C.; Miles, S.; Myers, J. 2014. Inclusive Learning: Children with disabilities and difficulties in learning. Oxford: HEART (Health & Education Advice & Resource Team). Retrieved from: http://www.heart-resources.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Inclusive-Learning-Topic-Guide.pdf?9d29f8=.  

Humanity & Inclusion. 2015. Education for all? This is still not a reality for most children with disabilities. Retrieved from: https://hi.org/sn_uploads/document/Education-pour-tous_un-mythe-pour-la-plupart-des-enfants-handicapes_en_1.pdf

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016. Training Tools for Curriculum Development. Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources /ibe-crp-inclusiveeducation-2016_eng.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Ghana: making inclusive education a reality. Accessed 30 August 2019: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/ghana-making-inclusive-education-reality-4564

UNESCO; EFA GMR (Education for All Global Monitoring Report). n.d. Disabilities and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/Facts-Figures-gmr.pdf

UNESCO. 2004. Changing Teaching Practices: using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’ diversity. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000136583

UNESCO. 2009c. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

UNESCO. 2019. The right to education for persons with disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371249

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014. Teachers, Inclusive, Child-Centred Teaching and Pedagogy: Webinar 11 – Access to School and the Learning­ Environment II Universal Design for Learnin­g. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Vrasmas, T. 2014. Curriculum for children with disabilities in inclusive education. Literature review. In: Procedia – Social and Behavioural Sciences, 127, pp.336-341. Retrieved from: https://cyberleninka.org/article/n/15292/viewer

Provide training to teachers and school leaders

Inclusive curricula requires greater demands on teachers and school leaders (IBE-UNESCO, 2016). Planning must take into consideration the time and resources needed to review teacher training and education curricula, as well as train or retrain teachers, so they can implement inclusive curricula effectively. For instance, in Uzbekistan, multiple initiatives to train inclusive education professionals have been implemented (UNICEF, 2014a); the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Services have started a reform process to ensure pre-service teacher education curriculum and in-service modules prepare teachers for inclusive education (IIEP-UNESCO, 2018).)

School leaders must also be formed on inclusive education to ensure that their schools are inclusive and equitable and that inclusive curricula are being applied in practice  (hidden curricula is as important as the formal one).

*Consult Annex 1 for a checklist that can facilitate the process of developing inclusive curricula (or reviewing existent curricula).

Annex 1

Checklist for inclusive curricula

Source: UNESCO. 2009c. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. p. 19-20. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016. Training Tools for Curriculum Development. Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources /ibe-crp-inclusiveeducation-2016_eng.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Ghana: making inclusive education a reality. Accessed 30 August 2019: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/ghana-making-inclusive-education-reality-4564

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

All policies mentioned in the general section of this Policy page are applicable to this category.

Other policy options

Promote curriculum for inclusive education

It is important to ensure that educators have the training, flexibility, and resources to teach students with diverse needs and learning styles.

Investments in early childhood education are also essential, as they assist in ensuring that kindergartens and schools receive adequate and sustainable financial support so that all activities and services are fully inclusive. Finally, make sure to empower parents to assert their children’s right to education in inclusive settings.

Enable the entire community, including mainstream and special educators, social workers, parents, and students, to work together and participate in the design, delivery, and monitoring of education, thereby reframing inclusive education as a shared responsibility.

There should be provisions set up to hold governments accountable for implementing anti-discrimination legislation, legal mandates for inclusion, and policies to remove barriers.

Promote an accessible and engaging curriculum

An accessible inclusive curriculum promotes the values and principles of inclusive education and is used to build inclusive, equitable societies. The curriculum also embraces diversity, respects the principles of non-discrimination, promotes tolerance and recognises every child’s right to education.

Work with students to establish reasonable and challenging expectations for all. Encouraging all students to make good use of class notes, slides and handouts beforehand by making them available to the students prior to the teaching.

Bolster students to raise questions and ideas in advance of teaching so that, in the time spent together, ideas can be explored more deeply and understanding is developed more than knowledge. Encouraging students to try different methods of recording presentations, interventions, and discussions, and to share and review these with peers.

The curriculum should be suitably demanding.  A key aim of the curriculum is to enable every student to achieve his or her potential, it is important that the curriculum extends children’s capabilities,  not least by promoting higher-order thinking and stimulating the development of curiosity, critical questioning, and the imagination.

For precise information about inclusive teaching and learning materials consult Policy page Textbook availability and content; to learn more about developing teachers’ content knowledge consult Policy page Teacher content knowledge; for information about inclusive classroom practices consult Policy page Classroom practices; to learn about promoting mother-tongue learning language consult Policy page Language of instruction; to explore inclusive training and teaching skills consult Policy page Teaching skills.

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016. Training Tools for Curriculum Development. Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources /ibe-crp-inclusiveeducation-2016_eng.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Ghana: making inclusive education a reality. Accessed 30 August 2019: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/ghana-making-inclusive-education-reality-4564

UNESCO. 2004. Changing Teaching Practices: using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’ diversity. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000136583

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education); IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. Education for peace: planning for curriculum reform; guidelines for integrating an Education for Peace curriculum into education sector plans and policies. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233601

Muskin, J.A. 2015. Student learning assessment and the curriculum: issues and implications for policy, design and implementation. IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235489

Keith M Lewin. 2015. Educational access, equity and development: Planning to make rights realities.  IIEP-UNESCO. Paris. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235003

Dr S. Themelis; B. Foster. Education for Roma: the potential of inclusive, curriculum-based innovation to improve learning outcomes. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global   Monitoring Report 2013/4. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000225955

Stabback, P. 2016. What makes a quality curriculum? Current and critical issues in the curriculum and learning. Geneva: UNESCO-IBE. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243975

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2000. Curriculum and Learning. Education Update. Retrieved from:  https://www.unicef.org/french/education/files/edu.pdf

Policies for minority populations

All policies recommended in the general section apply for this category.

Other policy options

Incorporating an inclusive and neutral language

Textbooks and learning materials should be written in a language that optimises learning objectives, with the purpose to impart knowledge and information. For example, the number of believers in a particular religion, for example, or exploring the actual role of women and explaining their marginalisation, as well as to facilitate dialogue and critical reflection.

Textbooks are essential to teaching students how to approach and interpret the available knowledge. By paying critical attention to the language used in textbooks, one may ensure that all students feel included in the individual and collective inquiry. Revise documentation regularly (once a year) in response to the formal and informal feedback received from students.

Forme a diverse course documentation group and involve students in writing documentation and test it is clear and comprehensible. Avoid colloquialisms, jargon, and acronyms and be pre-emptive in explaining to them where they do occur.

Taking a consistent course-centred approach to designing teaching to simplify and promote course-level engagement for all students. Setting time aside to promote, evaluate and value student course performance is also important.

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016. Training Tools for Curriculum Development. Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources /ibe-crp-inclusiveeducation-2016_eng.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Ghana: making inclusive education a reality. Accessed 30 August 2019: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/ghana-making-inclusive-education-reality-4564

UNESCO. 2004. Changing Teaching Practices: using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’ diversity. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000136583

Identify and represent diversity

Providing quality education to all students means taking special considerations for learners whose mother-tongue is not the language of instruction. Curricula should support teachers in understanding and implementing appropriate practices for these students.

Contemporary forms of education are strongly based on a Western model of schooling that spread along with missionary activity and colonialism, in many cases irrevocably altering or replacing indigenous forms of education and socialisation. With this legacy in mind, it is important to give indigenous and minority populations new opportunities to decide what knowledge and abilities are to be valued and included in the official curriculum.

Involve members from diverse backgrounds for better representation. Exploring the personal strengths and preferences of students and how they can utilise these for addressing their weaker attributes is important.

Support and encourage students as active members of their learning community e.g. through ‘learning cells’ or ‘think-pair-share’ activities. Use diagnostic formative tasks to promote safe personal reflective engagement early in the course.

A number of additional strategies exist:

  • Provide timely personalised feedback. Use electronic and oral method to improve access and to heighten personal engagement amongst staff and students.
  • Negotiating individual assessment methods and criteria. Adding a personalised criterion can heighten the relevance of a task for example.
  • Using methods for personal engagement that do not raise anxiety unnecessarily, for example, using Post-it notes, written questions to a forum, etc.
  • Allocating students to small groups at first, supporting and managing group work closely to provide clarity and confident participation in discussions and presentations.

For precise information about inclusive teaching and learning materials consult Policy page Textbook availability and content; to learn more about developing teachers’ content knowledge consult Policy page Teacher content knowledge; for information about inclusive classroom practices consult Policy page Classroom practices; to learn about promoting mother-tongue learning language consult Policy page Language of instruction; to explore inclusive training and teaching skills consult Policy page Teaching skills.

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2016. Training Tools for Curriculum Development. Reaching Out to All Learners: a Resource Pack for Supporting Inclusive Education. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources /ibe-crp-inclusiveeducation-2016_eng.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2018. Ghana: making inclusive education a reality. Accessed 30 August 2019: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/ghana-making-inclusive-education-reality-4564

UNESCO. 2004. Changing Teaching Practices: using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’ diversity. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000136583

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education); IIEP-UNESCO. 2015. Education for peace: planning for curriculum reform; guidelines for integrating an Education for Peace curriculum into education sector plans and policies. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000233601

Muskin, J.A. 2015. Student learning assessment and the curriculum: issues and implications for policy, design and implementation. IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235489

Keith M Lewin. 2015. Educational access, equity and development: Planning to make rights realities.  IIEP-UNESCO. Paris. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235003

Dr S. Themelis; B. Foster. Education for Roma: the potential of inclusive, curriculum-based innovation to improve learning outcomes. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global   Monitoring Report 2013/4. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000225955

Stabback, P. 2016. What makes a quality curriculum? Current and critical issues in the curriculum and learning. Geneva: UNESCO-IBE. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243975

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2000. Curriculum and Learning. Education Update. Retrieved from:  https://www.unicef.org/french/education/files/edu.pdf

Updated on 2021-09-10

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