It is a known fact that the old objective based curriculum is nowhere near the new standard based curriculum and Common Core Program in terms of digital literacy, cultural identity, creativity and innovation. However, implementation of the new curriculum has been nothing more of a herculean task. The new curriculum focuses on the standards or skills learners are expected to acquire rather than the learning objectives.
Since its introduction, teachers in Ghana have expressed missed feelings regarding how difficult it is to implement it in the classroom.
The good-bad situations
New trend in education
In the old system, Basic Education in Ghana was for pupils from KG to JHS, after which the pupil will progress into the senior high level. The current trend has included senior high level as part of basic education. Basic education now consists of Key Phase 1 (Foundation Level or Kindergarten 1 & 2), Key Phase 2 (Lower Primary level or B1 to B3), Key Phase 3 (Upper Primary level of B4 to B6), Key Phase 4 (Junior High school level of JHS 1-3), Key Phase 5 (Senior High school level of SHS1- SHS3).
This trend has created a situation where underlying concepts at the SHS level are moved to the lower levels, hence the Common Core Program. This will ensure that pupils at the lower levels are abreast with concepts that are been taught at the SHS. In spite of the benefit of this new trend, it poses a challenge to teachers. There are far too many to teach in the time available and this may lead to curricular narrowing, a situation where too many curricular targets are laid out.
The new curriculum gives much credence to information technology. As a result, programming has been included in the primary school level, given how important it is in various fields. This will instill in learners high levels of creativity and critical thinking. Learners will also be abreast with modern technological trends. However, most schools in Ghana appear to be far from ready to implement this technological trend. Lack of computers in most schools makes teaching of the programming topics impossible. How would a teacher teach SQL without a computer?
Then there is the issue of skill training required to teach these topics. Throughout my formal education from KG through to SHS, I never had the opportunity to be taught programming in the classroom. Programming was basically non-existent in the college of education course outline. So it is safe to say that student teachers who went through the college of education system during my time and prior to that may have had no training in the aspect. I had to take extra professional courses on programming perhaps due to my line of work besides teaching. How would teachers who had no training in programming be able to teach the aspect in the classroom? As of now, no training has been organized to help develop in-field teachers to help supplement the deficiencies in this aspect. This will result in sub-standard lesson delivery on the programming topics. On severe cases, some teachers may skip the topics entirely.
For students who are yet to enter into the college of education system, planners of the course outline may just include the topics in the curriculum of the colleges of education and those set of teachers may have the requisite skills needed to teach the topics. However, those who are already in the classrooms require special skill training on the aspect.
New curriculum textbooks
NaCCA has approved a list of textbooks for KG and Primary level and these books are readily available in the various book shops. However, default textbooks sanctioned by the Government of Ghana and supplied to public schools are still not available. School heads will have to buy books for use in the classroom. Consider English readers, which will have to be distributed to each pupil. Schools with large population will find it difficult to buy and supply these readers to pupils. It is worth mentioning that resource packs for the current JHS 1 pupils who are part of the Common Core Program have been supplied and emphasis is being made on research to find passages for reading and comprehension lessons. This may create an additional challenge to schools in the rural areas with poor network reception. Hence the need to supply default readers to schools.
Lesson notes preparation
The new curriculum has led to modification of the format for lesson planning. Lesson planning has become standard for all. As such learners go through same experiences nationwide. This new trend has led to the use of digital lesson notes preparation, where a teacher could download samples of lesson plans and schemes of learning online in pdf or doc formats and submit them for vetting. This is one of the most welcoming trend gradually creeping in to our lesson notes preparation system, though it is far from a done deal yet as some heads insist on the old school way of writing the notes in ink. In this regard, schemes of learning and lesson notes for terms 1, 2 and 3 for KG to Basic 6 have been made available here on the Mickinet Systems platform for all teachers to download and use freely.
Subjects are many and cumbersome
Last but not least, the subjects introduced in the new curriculum appear to be many and cumbersome. Some of the content areas in these subjects are way too chaotic.
Some of the subjects could have been combined in my opinion. For instance, Our World Our People and History could be one subject. Also, Career technology and Creative Arts and Design could have been infused together. These subject areas appear to include related areas and therefore teaching them under two separate subjects creates a bit of a chaos in the classroom.