Equity-sensitive curriculum

Promising 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 individual and collective inquiry. Revising documentation regularly (once a year) in response to the formal and informal feedback received from students is important to better respond to the change in needs.

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

Take a consistent course-centred approach to designing teaching to simplify and promote course-level engagement for all students, and set time aside to promote, evaluate and value student course performance. The curriculum should also be able to help in identifying and properly representing diversity in the local schools or communities.

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.

Support and encourage students as active members of their learning community e.g. through ‘learning cells’ or ‘think-pair-share’ activities, using diagnostic formative tasks to promote safe personal reflective engagement early in the course. Provide timely personalised feedback. Use electronic and oral methods to improve access and to heighten personal engagement amongst staff and students.

Negotiate individual assessment methods and criteria. Adding a personalised criterion can heighten the relevance of a task. Favour using methods for personal engagement that do not raise anxiety unnecessarily, for example, using Post-it notes, written questions to a forum, etc.

Allocate students to small groups at first, supporting and managing group work closely to provide clarity and confident participation in discussions and presentations. Using an inclusive and integrated approach to education can promote social cohesion between refugees and host learners, and foster sustainable livelihoods for refugees in their host countries -or their own States if they are able to return.

Efforts to enhance social cohesion, combat xenophobia, racism, and discrimination against refugees and to build tolerance among the host society should be pursued through formal and non-formal education, including sports and the arts. This also means integrating host communities, notably parents’ associations and civil society, in the education response towards the inclusion of refugees in the education system and the host community.

Consider the provision of accelerated learning programmes to ensure that fundamental education is available to migrant children, youth and adults so that all refugees have the opportunity to obtain basic qualifications or vocational training.

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: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000235489

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

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). 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

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

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

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

Promote mother tongue language teaching and multilingual language teaching

Mother language instruction is recommended for the indigenous population, ethnic minorities living in remote areas and displaced populations. Research shows that children learn best in their mother tongue. However evident this may appear, there are still many countries where, by law, all education must take place in the national language. Children who don’t speak that language are at a significant disadvantage from their very first day in school. (UNESCO 2009)

Language revitalisation programmes should be integrated into the national education system as many indigenous languages are endangered or on the verge of extinction (For more context-based example, refer to the Australian education system).

Formal education should not only teach about the geopolitical world but should also support and value traditional knowledge, culture, livelihoods, world views and pedagogical methods that have survived in a country for centuries. In order to do this effectively, infrastructure, curricula and pedagogical materials should be tailored made to the unique needs of minority learners, communities and peoples. This includes modified schedules, distance learning initiatives, mobile schools and culturally and linguistically appropriate pedagogical materials.

According to Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), indigenous peoples should be given the freedom to identify their own educational priorities and curriculum and pedagogical material development, teacher training and education delivery should be planned and implemented with the active involvement of the indigenous community.

Actively involve the community for effectively transmitting traditional knowledge. Earmarked funding is required to ensure the delivery of quality education for indigenous peoples.

Promote capacity building for teachers in language training. Place an emphasis on capacity-building for teachers, especially to be able to teach in the mother- or ethnic- language of the students. This includes ensuring professional-scale remuneration on par with teachers in non-indigenous communities.

National curricula and materials should also be intercultural and should include accurate information about relevant minority populations, their cultures, their histories, and their life experiences. This naturally entails removing all negative and discriminatory stereotypes from the curricula and materials of all schools and educational institutes.

Promote inclusive multilingual language teaching. Developing proper language and literature skills enable children and young people to use questioning, information, critical thinking, decision-making, and memory to organise thoughts, ideas, feelings, and knowledge. Furthermore, it also helps with better communication with others and formulating appropriate responses; formulate, express and present their arguments, feelings, and ideas in a persuasive manner’, and appreciate and enjoy the literary heritage of the languages they learn.

The learning and teaching of a second language provides access to near-universal knowledge and culture. However, depending upon the context, the second language could also be the host community language. The introduction to foreign languages through a language awareness programme is deemed necessary in light of the political, geographical and historical context and this is one of the European Union’s emphases on multilingualism.

References
UNESCO. 2006. UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education. UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ images/0014/001478/147878e.pdf

UNESCO. 2005. Proceedings of the International Congresses of: Education for Shared Values for Intercultural and Interfaith Understanding, (and) Religion in Peace and Conflict: Responding to Militancy and Fundamentalism. Retrieved from: UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001417/141773e.pdf

UNESCO. 2009. Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue: UNESCO World Report. UNESCO. Retrieved from: http:// unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001847/184755E.pdf

UNESCO. 2009. Promoting Gender Equality in Education. Gender in Education Network Asia-Pacific (GENIA) Toolkit.  UNESCO, Bangkok office. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001864/186495e.pdf

UNESCO. 2012. UNESCO International Meeting of Experts: Fostering a Culture of Intercultural Dialogue in the Arab States. Report. UNESCO: Beirut. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002196/219692e.pdf

UNESCO. 2015. Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002329/232993e.pdf

UNESCO. 2015. Comparative study of textbooks: working document in the framework of the Euro-Arab Dialogue. summary report. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002431/243181e.pdf

UNESCO. 2016. Out in the open: education sector responses to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002447/244756e.pdf

Blumberg, R. L. 2007. Gender bias in textbooks: A hidden obstacle on the road to gender equality in education. UNESCO (Background paper for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2008: Education for All by 2015: Will we make it?).  Retrieved from: http://files.adulteducation.at/voev_content/340-gender_books.pdf

Brugeilles, C. and Cromer, S. 2009. Promoting Gender Equality through Textbooks: A Methodological Guide. UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001588/158897e.pdf

Centre Hubertine Auclert. 2014. Manuels scolaires, genre et égalité (proceedings of 2 July 2014 symposium). Retrieved from: http://www.centre-hubertine-auclert.fr/sites/default/files/fichiers/actes-04-manuelscolaire-22122014-web.pdf

Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children, Arigatou Foundation. 2008. Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education. In cooperation and endorsed by UNESCO and UNICEF. Arigatou Foundation. Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001610/161059e.pdf

Leo, J. de. 2010. Education for Intercultural Understanding. UNESCO Office in Bangkok (Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Tools). Retrieved from:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ images/0018/001890/189051e.pdf

Promote Education for Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) enables learners to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values required to become active participants, individually and collectively, in decision-making processes, both at local and global levels to improve the quality of life of the present and future generations. (Felicienne Mallia Borg. n.d.)

ESD promotes a system-based approach and an integrated knowledge base that invites learners to develop a holistic view of their surroundings, i.e. an interaction of aesthetic, environmental, economic, political, technological, cultural and societal perspectives. Through ESD, the learner’s environment (within and outside the school) becomes a fundamental teaching resource that is locally relevant and culturally sensitive.

Learning experiences are structured around the identification and resolution of environmental issues that equip and empower learners with problem-solving and decision-making skills that are indispensable in the context of lifelong learning.

ESD incorporates the following learnings:  

  • strives towards a world in which all humans have access to sufficient food and water, a healthy and productive life, basic education, and a safer and just environment;
  • re-orients education to address sustainable development;
  • respects, values and preserves past achievements;
  • values the Earth’s resources and its peoples;
  • assesses, cares for and restores the state of our planet; and
  • develops citizens who exercise their rights and responsibilities locally, nationally and globally.
References
Felicienne Mallia Borg. n.d. Developing an inclusive curriculum. European Agency. Retrieved from: https://www.european-agency.org/sites/default/files/Developing-an-inclusive-curriculum-in-Malta.pdf and The Framework, retrieved from:  https://meae.gov.mt/en/Public_Consultations/MEDE/Documents/MEDE_Inclusion_Framework_A4_v2.pdf

UNESCO. 2009. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000177849

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

Promote on-going teacher professional development

The ongoing professional development of teachers to update their knowledge and skills-base is viewed as indispensable for the continued effectiveness of the profession. Teachers need to consider themselves as critical and reflective professionals who are supported to engage with contemporary theory and practice in order to update and improve their pedagogies.

One way of fostering this on-going professional development in teachers is to establish mentoring programmes at different levels of their careers. Newly qualified teachers or contract teachers face challenges and responsibilities which they can then benefit greatly from well-established structured support by more experienced and specifically trained peers. Mentoring is also beneficial when a practitioner is experiencing challenges that require professional support.

Provide legal and psycho-social services for teachers, especially when a state promotes the hiring of teachers from minority backgrounds such as the displaced populations, indigenous groups, etc. 

Ministries of Education should involve parents and other relevant stakeholders throughout the development or review process and must ensure the inclusive curriculum is context-base. For instance, 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).

Planning must take into consideration the time and resources needed to review teacher training and education curricula and to train or retrain teachers. For example, 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 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 to them the necessary skills and knowledge to rectify them within the classrooms (UNESCO, 2015).

Promote teacher training for religious and ethics education. In minority religious schools, the teaching of religion in schools is seen as an important element in the integral formation of the person. The aim is for the education to lead to a process of self-discovery, developing the moral and spiritual dimensions and contributing towards children’s capacity to value, appreciate, perceive and interpret the world they live in. Therefore, imparting this should be done in an unbiased way.

Promote teacher training for digital literacy. 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 (https://educationnorthwest.org/) contains over 15,000 links in total, which also include teacher resources and guides them through the learning journey available. The Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development platform (http://www.ascd.org/Default.aspx) empowers educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged, and the Teacher Cast Educational Network 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.

References
UNESCO. 2009. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000177849

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

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=.  

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.

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

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

Other policy options

Promote health and physical education

It is fundamental to promote physical health within the education system. The areas of Health Education includes physical education, sports, personal and social development as well as aspects of Home Economics in some countries. The aim of promoting physical education is to equip learners with the necessary knowledge, competencies, skill, attitudes, and values which they need to maintain, promote and enhance physical, emotional, psychological and social well-being throughout their school life and as lifelong learners.

Mental health is another area that requires the attention of policy-makers on education. Encouraging peace education which addresses cognitive and affective advances in children, and emphasizes the development of values that lead to behavioural 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 would be 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 to calm and concentrate the mind to create a sense of inner peace.

Schools should be encouraged to collaborate with parents and the wider community for ensuring meaningful and long-lasting experiences. This also helps with instilling a sense of ‘self’ and ‘other’, including the impact of choices and actions upon individuals, communities and environment. Educating students about the importance of health lays a foundation of commitment to social communities and environmental issues also forms part of their holistic development.

References
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). 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

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

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

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

Updated on 2020-09-04

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