Ministry of Education

Prioritized Curriculum to be used as the New Normal Curriculum henceforth

After the closure of schools in the country on March 18, 2020, the Ministry of Education (MoE) implemented adaptive curriculum and assessment instead of conventional school curriculum and assessment. In the case of E-Learning, the assessment will be done as per the adaptive curriculum at the end of the academic year.

Wangpo Tenzin, the Dean and Curriculum Specialist of Royal Education Council (REC) defined the concept of adaptive curriculum and prioritized curriculum.

Adapted curriculum is a modified learning experiences from the prescribed program of studies to meet the learning requirements of students with emphasis on numeracy, literacy and life skills delivered in themes and key stages. It is a thematic approach with the purpose to maintain continuity of learning and keep children engaged and safe from the risk of contracting the virus, or preventing endangering lives during emergencies.

It comprises about 35 to 40% of the actual school curricula. This is the form of curriculum implemented all around the world during emergencies, whether it be biological, conflicts, or natural disasters. It is delivered through: BBS Video Lessons and Self Instructional Materials (SIM); Google classroom and other social media platforms; and Radio Lessons for PP – III.

Normal curriculum provides a detailed learning content to achieve the prescribed learning outcomes in the normal situation through formal teaching and learning.

Similarly, a prioritized curriculum is carefully selected learning experiences which is grade-specific and subject-specific, and which each students must know and be able to do by the end of each school year in order to be prepared for the standards of the next grade.

It comprises of 65% of the normal or regular learning content.

Prioritized curriculum emphasizes on the development of understanding and competencies on fundamental concepts and ideas in the subjects. The learning outcomes are defined by a set of standards or outcomes, which include procedural knowledge, skills, strategies, and processes.

The dean said globally the concept of prioritized curriculum is generally deployed in the normal situation, and not necessarily during emergencies. It is used when the education system aspires to promote in-depth learning in preference to breadth in learning by carefully selecting content area or the learning standards for the specific grade and specific subject. Generally, many use the REAL Model (R= Readiness, E= Endurance, A= Assessed, L= Leverage) for selecting the learning standards for a grade and the subject. As one may infer from the concept of adapted curriculum, it is an interim form of curriculum for providing basic education on literacy, numeracy and life skills and education on emergencies.

Since it does not provide comprehensive learning across all subjects in the grade, it is normally replaced by the normal curriculum, which helps children attain the prescribed learning outcomes as stipulated in the subjects’ curriculum framework.

However, since there is a general perception to reduce the heavy learning content and promote “less is more” principle of teaching and learning, the Prioritized Curriculum, which covers about 65% of the earlier learning content, shall be the used as the “New Normal curriculum” henceforth.

The reduced content is to create time, space for active engagement of children in their learning, and promote experiential learning. In the 21st century, such approach to learning is crucial in helping children develop transversal skill competencies and empower them in discovering and accelerating the development of their innate potential.

He said owing to high stake examinations at classes 10 and 12, followed by classes 9 and 11, schools reopened for normal physical contact teaching and learning since July 1, 2020 and August 1, 2020. As per the Education in Emergency Guidelines jointly developed with relevant stakeholders, since these classes resumed the regular contact teaching, they implemented the Prioritized Curriculum.

As per the plan, if schools remain closed and the formal contact teaching and learning is not feasible, schools implement the adapted curriculum.

In the Prioritized Curriculum, same subjects are taught with carefully selected content reduced to 65% of the normal curriculum in each subject with an attempt to facilitate children achieve the major intended learning outcomes. By this, less important content such as history of the concepts, obsolete information, and redundant elaboration are omitted to reduce the heavy learning content.

For Special Education Needs schools like, Wangsel, Muenselling, and schools like Changangkha MSS where they provide education for SEN children, the responsible institutes made arrangements at the institute level with minimum change in curriculum.

The dean said REC and MoE is striving to take the advantage of the COVID 19 pandemic to transform the curriculum, pedagogy including digital pedagogy and multimedia, and assessment in the light of accelerating an education that provides experiential learning to foster the development of physical and social competencies.

 This change must be implemented from the 2021 academic onwards as the New Normal Curriculum. This entails the urgency to inspire teachers to change their roles from knowledge transmitter to the roles of guide, facilitator, and researcher.

Towards this, the preference is to substitute textbooks with “Student’s Study Guide” which fosters personalized learning and be motivated and inquisitive as lifelong learners. Textbooks and other additional references should help children in their learning as directed by the guide.

The move may appear radical, but the educational gain from it will be far reaching in terms of inspiring children to create, innovate through critical thinking, collaboration and communication throughout their learning experiences. This is to facilitate the development of nationally rooted and globally competent citizens, who are productive and socially responsible.

In the current situation, in-spite of the priority to deliver the curriculum materials by the end of 2020, owing to ever increasing COVID 19 pandemic cases and the social distancing imperatives, engagement of stakeholders and profession meeting in large groups is not feasible and is perceived as an impediment in delivering the desired outputs.  Further, there is skepticism on the ability of teachers to implement the change with integrity and due diligence.

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