Curriculum development entails an organized preparation of activities that guide the learning process of learners. It creates an inclusive curriculum with instructions and methods of content delivery to students. Since curriculum development is a process, it remains a continuous activity that relates to the environment where it takes place.
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Curriculum development, therefore, remains a key educational process that involves amalgamation of diverse processes that aim at achieving certain objectives in a school setup (Brady & Kennedy, 2010).
It covers the whole process of curriculum design and implementation, which starts from planning and ends at evaluation and revision. Curriculum developers make a curriculum into official documents in order to act as a guide for teachers during the delivery process. A curriculum is more than a list of topics; it is a broad policy statement or sum of all learning experiences and opportunities that institutions and teachers follow.
A curriculum carries the hopes of a society that educational institutions are supposed to meet. In developing a national curriculum, it is essential to consider the nature of the environment in which implementation of the curriculum is to take place (Brady & Kennedy, 2010).
Therefore, curriculum developers like Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) uses different models in order to align the requirements of the curriculum with the needs of all states and territories. Notably, prior understanding of the environment will enable the entire process of curriculum development and implementation proceeds efficiently and effectively.
In addition, a teacher will be able to use teaching approaches that consider individual differences of all learners. The global nature of the world makes it necessary for the development of a curriculum that includes recent Information and Communication Technologies (ACARA, 2012).
Globalization has offered an essential reason on the need to have a curriculum that does not only impart knowledge and skills but also offers global competence to learners.
In Australia, ACARA is the body entitled with curriculum development through educational researches. This body follows the goals of the Melbourne Declaration in designing an all-round curriculum (MCEETYA, 2008).
The Declaration puts forward knowledge and skills acquisition, equity and excellence among successful learners. This initiative requires a deep commitment that makes it possible for the process to reach completion.
ACARA has to carry out detailed researches in all the states and territories in Australia in order to acquire the needs of all the local communities. This enables them to design a curriculum that addresses the expectations of Australian citizens irrespective of location.
During the implementation process, there are logistics that require immediate intervention; therefore, a committed and flexible team will make timely adjustments on the designed curriculum (Drake, 2007). There are multitudes of factors that influence the nature of a curriculum in all countries.
These factors can influence what the developers should include in or exclude from the curriculum. This essay discusses major factors that influence the curriculum development process in Australia. The factors include social forces, economic levels, political situation, and the ICT context.
On the social aspect, there are societal expectations. Societies do have their own needs that they require to be in their national curriculum. Moreover, societies have a preview or perception of what a person who have undergone through the curriculum should look like (Fogarty, 1997). Therefore, curriculum developers should not assume the considerations from the local communities.
If curriculum developers vividly follow and include the requirements of different societies, the curriculum will receive immediate communal support thereby becoming relevant. For example, students who go through the curriculum should gain knowledge and skills that enable them fit comfortably in the society.
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An education process should be one that makes students love their communities by engaging in developmental activities that gear towards raising the economic standards of their areas. In addition, societies expect curriculums to address their philosophies and their ways of life.
For example, a Christian-based community will own a curriculum that recognizes their Christian values and practices. Notably, it will be an attempt to commit ‘curriculum suicide’ by inculcating religious teachings that are incompatible with that of the local community that implements the curriculum (McCarthy & McCarthy, 2005).
Moreover, the cultural practices of a community will affect the final design of a curriculum. Communities that are used to practising monogamy as a way of life will not accept a curriculum that propagates for gay and polygamous marriage. The society will reject such curriculum out rightly. Consequently, the whole curriculum development and implementation process will fail.
It is worth noting that all communities have their own cultural and religious practices, which can be similar or not. Curriculum developers will have to apply different models in designing a curriculum that will fit in all these communities. Family life and international relations among countries in the world influence the content of a curriculum.
For instance, the inclusion of social studies in secondary education of Australia testifies the need for students to study family education and relationship among different races and ethnic groups. This curriculum makes learners accommodate everybody in the world irrespective of their backgrounds. The Australian curriculum covers the affective, social, physical, and cognitive experiences, which are the diverse needs of students.
Again, the constant hostility and tension among some world nations like North Korea and USA have altered most curriculums in the world. Evidently, the way of life in societies affects the content of any national curriculum. For instance, some graduate students have studied a course on Peace and Conflict Management; this reveals the state at which different social groups and communities in the world are with each other.
Clearly, a community’s social setup affects the context of the entire curriculum; it aligns the content of the final curriculum with the contemporary practices, beliefs, and challenges that a community is facing.
Additionally, international organizations such as Commonwealth, UNEP, UNICEF and UNESCO have severally altered the curriculum of all nations; for instance, they have introduced programmes such as Environmental Education, HIV/AIDS Education, Developmental Studies and Population Control.
Environmental Education has featured due to the continuous effects of climate change that require the effort of all people in the world to mitigate (ACARA, 2012). There have also been the mass spread of HIV/AIDS in the world, and its prevention requires a unitary approach.
These programmes try to create awareness from the school level thereby ensuring that learners are empowered on how to tackle these current challenges. From this point, it is clear that social factors can determine what a country ought to include in its curriculum.
Another social factor that influences the content of a curriculum is the idea of special interest groups such as trade unions, non-governmental organizations, and professional bodies. These bodies desire to have a curriculum that implements their ideologies.
For instance, the Catholic Commission for Peace and Justice openly refused to accept the inclusion of sex education into Zimbabwe’s curriculum on the grounds of human rights violation. Trade unions have always been playing the role of activists for employees in all countries.
The International Labour Organization (ILO), for example, has ensured that Australian students study and comprehend their rights and responsibilities as employees (Skinner, 2010). This helps in preventing violations of human rights at the workplaces in terms of remunerations, expectations, and durations of work.
Political factors apparently influence the content of a country’s curriculum. In Australia, the nature of the government system, efficiency drives, local policies, and international policies affect the curriculum content. A scrutiny of the Australian system of government reveals its foundation on liberal democratic tradition. The system bases on religious tolerance, respect for the rule of law and freedom of association and speech.
Since Australia was under the British Rule, it has a system that is similar to Britain. The Australian Government has to inculcate these aspects in their curriculum so that the citizens are at the forefront in defending the national values. Some of the key features of the Australian Government include a written constitution, a sovereign parliament, four principal political parties, and the frequent elections.
ACARA must inculcate all these aspects in the curriculum in order to produce citizens who are responsible and can adhere to the requirements of these features. The Government also has its projections and concerns for their flora and fauna; it is essential to include such parameter in the curriculum, as it requires a unitary approach to protect.
The Australian Curriculum has the nation’s symbols, coat of arms, the national anthem, and other national icons. Evidently, government systems and beliefs affect the nature of a county’s curriculum. The influence of politics in curriculum design and development, in Australia, is also evident through formation of numerous education committees and commissions (ACARA, 2011).
Although the compositions of these commissions have curriculum experts, they mostly have political connections. The commissions’ recommendations receive government support through the Ministry of Education and its agencies like ACARA in implementation.
The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) in Australia is one of the bodies that monitor the school education policies by contributing effectively to the national school debates (Smith & Lovat, 2003). This Committee appoints members to act as sponsors in the school committees or Board of Governors.
Moreover, the Australian Government controls the development process of its curriculum through its Ministry of Education; it devolves powers to all states and territories. Educational projects receive funds from the central government.
Australia’s Education Sector always takes the huge share of the national budget, which it uses in research and development, activities that determine the content of a curriculum. States provide facilities and equipment, instructors and teachers; all these parameters affect curriculum development.
International policies can affect the entire curriculum design and development process especially changes in policies on overseas studies. In UK, for example, such changes enable the country to develop a local curriculum that encompasses the needs of students in the 21st century thereby making it possible to meet the international educational standards.
Numerous researches receive government funding; this also reveals the political influence on the context of a curriculum. In addition, politicians do contribute to the nature of a curriculum; they always intend to include elements that favour their interests (Smith & Lovat, 2003). Unchecked political interventions that arise from non-educational sources can lower the quality of educational programmes.
Therefore, curriculum developers should be alert to prevent such instances from altering the expected goals of the curriculum. ACARA must intensively engage the political leaders on their needs and agendas that they expect to be in the curriculum. Australia is among the Asian nations like China and India, which are experiencing the drastic change in the economic growths.
These Asian tigers have prompted the Australian Government to inculcate initiatives that will enable them develop at the same rate as China, India and Japan (Australia in the Asian Century, n.d.). A curriculum should respond to the challenges in order to enhance the satisfaction of the rapidly changing needs in all sectors.
On the economic front, economic growth levels can affect what a country includes in its curriculum. For instance, a country with low Per Capita income will not include expensive learning based methods and content. People with low standard of living will not give due focus to education, but focuses on meeting the basic needs, which are food, clothing, and shelter.
An education system that requires involvement of parents through financial support will prove expensive to maintain; therefore, curriculum directors may opt to eliminate some content in order to enable all learners to receive the benefits of education (Australia in the Asian Century, n.d.).
Secondly, government funding on curriculum development depends on the economic growth of a country. A comparison of the UK’s curriculum to Somalia’s curriculum shows a vast difference on the content and expectations that the society expects from their children.
UK’s Curriculum Development Centre receives more funds and gears their curriculum towards innovation and sustainability while the Somali’s Curriculum developers still source for funds from donor nations. Its curriculum focuses on poverty alleviation, economic independence, and development. Additionally, a country’s economic activities will influence the nature of its curriculum.
Curriculum Directors must consider the economic activities of their countries in order to aid growth and sustainability. For instance, Japan as the third developing economy in the world focuses on vehicle assembling.
Its curriculum has to include vehicle assembling so that the learners become knowledgeable and skilled in this field. Clearly, the society will report continuous growth on the vehicle industry as its citizens will be well conversed with the whole techniques in the industry.
Moreover, there are contemporary issues that affect the curriculum design and development process. There are some diseases related to the lifestyle one chooses; for instance, the rate of infection communicable disease like cancer and cardiovascular disease has risen to 52%. With the current increase in cigarette smoking, death rates have also risen from 2.4 million to 4.3 million (Australia in the Asian Century, n.d.).
In addition, diabetes and obesity tend to rise with the nature of lifestyle that people adopt. Deloitte Access Economics study has forecast on the rise of obesity infection to 5% in the next 10 years. The lifestyle diseases make it necessary to alter the content of a curriculum to include healthy life practices.
The current ICT development has also affected the curriculum development process of many nations. Learning institutions are increasingly using computers to enable learners adapt easily to the technological environment. In the global business world, stakeholders transact through the internet; this necessitates an urgent need to update curriculums.
In addition, advancements in communication have enabled people to connect and access certain information that meet their needs. These channels of communication have made the world a global village; as a result, their inclusion in a country’s curriculum will improve the overall quality of the education system.
It has contributed to the organisational change of behaviour because of the faster connectivity in educational institutions (Brady & Kennedy, 2010). Technology has enabled students to study from any location in the world provided the location has internet connections.
This has resulted to an increased interest in learning, as it becomes the centre of learning. If students use laptops or mobile phones, they easily connect to the vast information thereby becoming updated.
On the other hand, the digital world enables a student to access information that can lead them into criminal activities. They access sophisticated online tools and information that spoils their morals, for example, pornographic films. Curriculum development teams should decide on the best technology and the mode of presentation that will improve the morals of learners.
This is worthwhile in planning and researching for future curriculum aimed at improving the quality of education. Curriculum development process also depends on social diversity and characteristics, as they influence various teaching methods and topics that the learners study.
In Australia, the Equity and Diversity Advisory Group provides expert advice to ACARA on designing a diverse curriculum, which takes care of gifted and talented students, disabled students and students from low economic backgrounds (ACARA, 2011). Curriculum directors should expect these issues when developing a curriculum.
ACARA. (2011). Student Diversity: ACARA. ACARA Home. Web.
ACARA. (2012). Curriculum Development Process Paper (Version 6 April 2012). ACARA Home. Web.
Australia in the Asian Century. (n.d.). Australia in the Asian Century. Web.
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Fogarty, R. (1997). Problem-based learning and other curriculum models for the multiple intelligence classroom. Melbourne: Hawker Brownlow Education.
McCarthy, B., & McCarthy, D. (2005). Teaching around the 4MAT Cycle: Designing Instruction for Diverse Learners with Diverse Learning Styles. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.
MCEETYA. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational goals for young Australians. Canberra: MCEETYA.
Skinner, D. (2010). Effective Teaching and Learning in Practice. London & New York: Continuum.
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