The concept of curriculum is as dynamic as the changes that occur in society. In its narrow sense, curriculum is viewed merely as a listing of subjects to be taught in school. In a broader sense, it refers to the total learning experiences of individuals not only in schools but in society as well. The first curriculum to be in existence was the saber tooth curriculum by Harold Benjamin in 1939 in the united states, which the young people were taught on how produce food, shelter and security by an intelligent man known as the New Fist in a village in the olden days. The topics involve in the curriculum were “fish grabbing with bare hands”, “woolly horse clubbing”, “saber tooth tiger scaring with fire”. In this section we will be considering the concept and factors to be considered in determining the curriculum of a nation. THE CONCEPT OF CURRICULUM
Curriculum which from centuries is defy from one acceptable definition because it is seen from different people from different area of specialization. For instance the way it is used by a teacher is different from a manager. “Curere” the Latin word which curriculum was derived from and “is to run a race” can never be perceived without the existence of education, since they both run along. Education which it’s to run a course with a start and an end. Curriculum which is of many definitions has been categorized in three by Adentwi as narrow, broad and midway in 2005.With the narrow and broad definitions, they all concern with the experience a learner acquired through only with written document of the school as cited by Adentwi (2005). For an in-depth understanding by Tamakloe (1992), a curriculum is made up of a selection of socially valued knowledge, skills and attitude which a learner is made to acquire through the various forms of planning. From this definition, it can be seen that curriculum is diversified through the life of the learner including the hidden and co-curriculum.
The following are the factors to be considered in determining the curriculum of a nation; Society consideration- the society has its own expectations about the aims and objectives that should be considered when designing the curriculum. It also has a perception of what the product of the school system should look like. It is therefore necessary to take societal consideration when determining a curriculum for the nation, if this does not happen, the curriculum becomes irrelevant. The knowledge, skills, values and attitude imparted to learners are expected to prepare them to fit in society. The issue of increasing access to university in Ghana has resulted in opening up several programs like distance education and mature applicants exams. Emphasis has been laid on guidance and counseling in Teacher Education Curriculum as a way of preparing teachers to cope with diverse behavioral disorder which have resulted from social problems and also will help learners to study such disorders and way of avoiding them. Parents are regarded as an important component of the education system and have input in curriculum determination (Lemner and Baden host, 1997).Society expects that curriculum addresses its philosophies and its expectation for the future. Government polices- the determination of a curriculum for the nation can be either centralized at the national or decentralized at the local level.
In the centralized level in Ghana, the design of curriculum is done by Curriculum Research and Development Division, which is influence by legislative acts and administrative polices, example the New Education Reform in 2007 in Ghana were computer literacy as a course to be taken by learners in basic and senior high school level. Before the government initiates a policy in its curriculum such as the computer literacy course, it makes sure there are enough trained teachers to teach the course and hardware and software are being acquired. A school can’t include list of subjects when it not in the national curriculum. Requirement of learners- For curriculum to be effective, the mental, physical and emotional nature of the learner must be considered for effective national goal. The school curriculum developers must look at the learner’s level of development and maturity. For example, in the primary level, there should be more concern with the system and process the learner’s life whereas at the higher level, the physical, chemical principle and theories that explain the system and processes that affect the learners life must be taught. Also the condition of the learner influences the selection of subjects and experiences. A blind cant is taught art appreciation and a deaf can’t be taught music. Financial priorities- Before a curriculum is implemented there must be enough money available to finance needed in determining the curriculum. With enough money available, learning facilities, materials can be purchased to run the curriculum.
A school cannot run computer science when there is no computers and electricity. Teachers- The implementation of curriculum must be highly emphasized on the availability of teachers to implement evaluate and supervise it. Teachers can specially train to undertake the course. The teachers must also make sure they assess the students with their own text, in other to know the level of understanding of the students. Pratt (1980) is of the view that curricula cannot be developed in a vacuum. One must have a clear idea of the abilities of the teachers responsible for its evaluation and supervision and the impact it will have on their efficiency.
Determining a curriculum involves the interaction of teachers, financial priorities, government policies, societal consideration and requirement of learners reaching beyond the academic wall to impact the entire community with knowledge, skills and attitude. Without an effective curriculum, students would not be able to understand or meet the challenges in the society. A curriculum prepares an individual with knowledge to be successful, confident and responsible citizens.