Curriculum / Syllabus Development - Main Users / Purpose

files/images_static/user.jpg Trainers, lecturers, training institutions, universities, colleges.

The curriculum (and therefore also the syllabus for the courses) is central to the teaching and learning process. Some writers (for example Miller, Turner and Innis, 1986) have advocated “curriculum- led” institutional development as a vehicle for change. The degree of autonomy of teachers and even institutions in the development of curricula is very variable. In some training institutions, teachers and lecturers are able to make quite wide-ranging decisions on the development of the curriculum, subject to approval from the institution. In many education institutions, however, overall development of the curriculum often remains the responsibility of a few, an elite group located at the top of a hierarchy. Discussions about curriculum development tend to involve a small number of persons in senior academic and, in some cases, government positions, and usually centre around the content of teaching.

There are two serious problems associated with this hierarchical approach:

  • ! Firstly, the assumption is made that a small, privileged group is aware of the reality of the external environment, and that their own theoretical understanding and experience is sufficient to enable them to develop curricula, which will bring about effective learning.
  • Secondly, as discussed earlier, it is believed that learning will take place through transmission of knowledge, and that the subject-related expertise of teaching staff is sufficient to convey knowledge to the learners. Curricula developed using this approach rarely provide guidance to teachers and learners on how the learning process may be facilitated. Teachers are left to fend for themselves, amidst all the constraints, which are present in training institutions or universities (Taylor, 1998b).

Even in those training institutions where teachers have a greater degree of autonomy in the curriculum development process, there is rarely any mechanism or agreed-upon principle for increasing the involvement of other stakeholders. The lecturer is still considered as the expert, and the assumption is made that he or she will deliver the goods as a result of expertise garnered through professional activities such as academic study and research, or through personal linkages with the relevant “industry” in which graduates will be employed. Authority over what will be taught to the majority is vested in the minority.