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Opinions of Saturday, 28 October 2017

Columnist: Joe Kingsley Eyiah

Let’s make the school curriculum relevant to our community needs to curb youth unemployment

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“A curriculum is considered the ‘heart’ of any learning institution which means that schools or universities cannot exist without a curriculum. With its importance in formal education, curriculum has become a dynamic process due to the changes that occur in our society.”

In my over forty years as a professional teacher, I have encountered the term curriculum in different ways. Curriculum could be described as lists of subjects, learning areas and courses of study. The syllabus outlines everything that the teacher needs to teach to his/her class. It must be argued here that this content-prescriptive approach limits the scope of teachers to really personalize the learning.

Although, there is no single definition that can be used to holistically explain this complex phenomenon known as curriculum, it can be simply referred to as a course of study or plan for what is to be taught in an educational institution (Wiles, “Bondi in Curriculum Development: A Guide to Practice”, 1998).According to Gatawa in the book “The Politics of the School Curriculum: An Introduction” (1990), the curriculum is general in nature, for it encompasses all societal speculations about knowledge and what constitutes it. Knowledge should have a basis as determined by society.

However, because knowledge is dynamic as it constantly changes with the coming on board of new truths in the ever changing universe, policymakers should always be privy to any shift in expectation, so that what is considered as knowledge remains relevant to societal needs.

Relevance is our big challenge now:

The greatest challenge we face today is relevance. Our students require a curriculum that provides them with meaningful experiences, that engenders deep and significant learning. It has to be relevant and responsive to the age in which we live. In other words, it must educate for life.

This reminds me of a recent talk by my school Principal, Mr. Karl Subban to parents and students who attended our transition information night for our Grade 8 students. He said that technology keeps on changing how we live. And that, the only possession we have that keeps us going is our potentials. Students therefore have to take opportunities of new learning initiatives and improve upon what they have already. The job market keeps on changing. What students learn at school should therefore be geared towards preparing them for needs of the community. This calls for dynamic and relevant curriculum.

In Ontario, it is reported that for the past four years college graduates have overtaken university graduates in securing better employment. This is partly due to the nature of courses offered at the college which are more hands-on and meets the present needs of the community.

Rising Graduate Unemployment in Ghana:

World Bank report on Ghana in 2016 laments the growing youth unemployment in Ghana. It says 48% of Ghanaian youth are jobless.

The report reveals, “In Ghana, youth are less likely than adults to be working: in 2012, about 52% of people aged 15-24 were employed (compared to about 90% for the 25-64 population), a third were in school, 14% were inactive and 4% were unemployed actively looking for job. Young women in the same age group are particularly disadvantaged and have much higher inactivity rates than men: 17% of young female are inactive as opposed to 11% of males.”

It recommended that “government must work towards equipping the youth with relevant skills through the educational system.”

Obviously, policymakers are confused about what the real issues are and what, possibly could be done about them. It must be noted here that Ghana is not the only country battling with the rise in graduate unemployment.

Ghana has now introduced free Senior High School to help all her citizens of school-going age to access secondary education. This means there will be more High School graduates for our Universities and Colleges than before. To curb the growing graduate unemployment in the country the school curriculum ought to be reshaped to cater for the needs of the Ghanaian community. Numeracy and literacy, science and technology, visual arts and performing arts, social studies and vocational studies must all be given respectable emphasis in the development of the school curriculum.

Our communities are undergoing radical changes as technology advances. Schools, colleges and universities ought to acknowledge such changes and make what students are taught in these formal institutions of learning more relevant to the needs of the comm.

By: Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Toronto-Canada