Suggested innovations for curriculum development in Yemen [Archives:2004/778/Education]

October 4 2004

Dr. Qaid A. Farae
College of Education,
Al- Nadira, Ibb

After studying several leading models of curriculum development, it is obvious that the local environment plays a significant role in curriculum development because there is close relationship between an understanding of the social environment and the development of an appropriate curriculum.
The rational curriculum must cater to the students' vocational demands and requirements, such as the demands of citizenship and self-fulfillment.
However, proposed curriculum cannot accomplish these demands and requirements unless it is developed in the light of the salient domestic model, which takes into account all students' needs, interests, experience, background in the target subject, growth level of students, attitude, aptitudes, individual differences etc. Also, community's needs and educational context, in addition to its facilities must be taken into account before such an enterprise.
The curriculum development models which are at present available are prepared in USA or European countries, so they are inappropriate for all the world because the environment, facilities and educational climate are different in these countries from the situation obtaining in Yemeni schools and so on. Hence they must be adapted, modified and changed according to the prevailing local conditions and educational scenario when any country wants to adopt any model. Otherwise it may design a national model taking into consideration the existing educational conditions in the target country.
There is consensus among all the educators that environment varies form one country to another, at the same time, it also varies from one suburb to another and from neighborhood to another in the same country. Keeping all these factors in view, the writer proposes a model which is appropriate for Yemeni educational environment.
It may be modified and adapted by other Arab countries to suit them according to their educational problems and possibilities.
This model consists of six main phases which are as follows:

1. Preparation phase
This phase comprises the following steps:
i) Selection of the contributors who will be participants in curriculum development process. They can be selected by the following ways:
a) The target curriculum specialists;
b) The educational supervisors;
c) Highly experienced teachers;
d) Experimental schools' principals;
e) Educated parents;
f) Psychologists ;
g) Sociologists and
h) In case of the development of curriculum in a foreign language, like English, some native experts may participate in the process with domestic English curriculum specialists, and English language specialists, selected from Colleges of Education and Arts.
ii. The participants in curriculum development process, should be equipped with the required skills.
iii. Determining the facilities of the human resources and the project budget.

2. Implementation phase
This phase should achieve the following tasks:
i. Preparing appropriate scientific criteria specifications for the target curriculum development;
ii. Evaluation of the current curriculum which is used in the schools;
iii. Studying the students' needs, interests, individual differences and so on;
iv.Studying the community's needs and requirements for comprehensive development;
v. Studying suggestions and opinions of the respective subject specialists;
vi. Studying the schools' observations about the students' needs, interests etc.
vii. Studying the opinions of educated parents;
viii. Studying the prevailing educational scenario;
ix. Studying the schools' facilities;
x. Writing general aims of the new curriculum in the light of the results of the studies( i-ix above );
xi. Formulating the specific objectives from the general aims. At the same time, the formulation of the objectives should be focused on the students' targeted behaviors performance in the classroom.
xii. Selection of the curriculum content in the light of sound scientific criteria;
xiii. Organization of the curriculum content in the light of appropriate theories;
xiv. Preparation or suggestion for the use of appropriate audio-visual aids; and
xv. Selection of appropriate methods of teaching.

3. Writing the new curriculum phase
The new curriculum should be written using a clear, simple and appropriate style.

4. Experimental phrase
The experimental phase is considered as one of the crucial phases in curriculum development. The purpose of the experiment is to administer the new curriculum in the experimental schools to find out its positive and negative points in order to overcome the negative points and reinforce the positive points.

5. Experimental schools
The experimental schools may be selected in limited Governorates which represent coastal areas, urban areas, and its outskirts in the Republic of Yemen. They have to select at least ten schools in the capital of governorate and the surrounding rural and suburbs areas. The supervisors of the experiment may increase or decrease the number of the schools in the target governorate. This matter depends upon supervisors' perceptions.

6. Evaluation phase
The following steps should be taken before starting the experimental phase:
a) Training the supervisors, experimental schools' principals, the teachers who will teach the new curriculum in schools as well as the assistants of new curriculum team who will follow up the new curriculum in the experimental schools.
b) Preparing evaluation tools for collecting data and information about the appropriateness of the target curriculum from the experimental schools.
Evaluation should be comprehensive and should take into account even minor achievements in so far as they provide valuable feedback to the curriculum team about accomplished steps and help them to take a sound decision about the target step.
As an instrument it would assist the curriculum developers and educational authorities to take precise decisions on the adequacy of the new curriculum in terms of different aspects during the preparation, implementation and administration phases. All these depend on gathering the required information and data from their original sources such as experimental teachers, students themselves, supervisors, experimental schools' principals, parents, other contributors in the curriculum development process. Moreover, these information and data must be analyzed precisely adopting scientific methods and techniques. In the light of the diagnosis and analysis of the experiment results, decisions must be taken wisely and rationally.
The final step in the evaluation process is to get the feedback. It links up the evaluation results with the formulation of objectives and other curriculum development phases continually because the curriculum development process is a cyclical sequence.