New Curriculum and Current Infrastructural Challenges: Will the Centre Hold?
Out of the many curriculum changes that have been introduced into the Basic education system, provisions in the current reform, on paper, seem to be arguably the most holistic in terms of the development of the Ghanaian child.
A cursory look into the 2019 new curriculum for Primary Schools reveals a massive change in the subject matter (content). Some subjects have given way for others with new others (Our World and Our People, History) introduced. The approaches to teaching (pedagogy) has also changed dramatically. The pedagogy for this new curriculum is strictly learner centred with the use of ICT as a pedagogical tool.
A successful implementation of this standard - based curriculum would lead to a creative, mathematically and scientifically driven Ghanaian child who would think critically to solve the numerous problems entangling our dear nation (Ministry of Education, 2018). The realisation of this utopian Ghana would also mean the removal of all barriers impeding the smooth implementation of this new curriculum.
One main bottleneck which needs to be addressed is the poor infrastructural conditions of most Primary schools. Infrastructure, technically known as the hardware of the school curriculum, would prove to be the major challenge in the implementation process. A survey by the Centre for Democratic Development in 2016 revealed that most Basic schools have poor infrastructural conditions and basic standards such as adequate classrooms, proper ventilation, proper roofing and safety floors.
Mr. Onyinah, a former Ashanti regional Director of Education once stated that without the provision of the right tools, facilities and infrastructure, no amount of motivations and policies can about the development of the nation's education. The Ghana News Agency (2017) reports that the Ministry of Education has identified 8,208 Basic schools that need urgent refurbishment, 45% of the total number of Primary Schools in Ghana. This implies that other schools which need attention but not urgent were not captured in this figure.
Unfortunately, the demands of a learner centred learning does not match our Ghanaian school infrastructure. Teachers in schools with no communication network would find it difficult to introduce ICT as a pedagogical tool. Other schools with good network also have no electricity to teach Computing. Have we also taken into consideration, how these 8,208 dilapidated schools are going to cope with the implementation of the new curriculum? Are their inadequate classrooms, broken walls, ripped off roofs permissive enough for the total adoption of a learner centred approach to learning?
Are we also aware that learner centred approach demands a lower class size for its success? The few schools with better infrastructure are crowded with large class size. Large class size limits students participation, the types of learning activities and the ability of the teacher to meet the individual needs of students (Hockings, 2005).
Just as the new curriculum "seeks to address the inherent challenges in the existing curriculum and ensure that the content of the national curriculum for change and sustainable development can be internationally benchmarked"( MoE, 2018), so shall Ghanaians school children be glad if the state of school infrastructure also meets international benchmarks.
With this new curriculum, Ghana would be producing the best problem solving, patriotic future leaders if these school infrastructural gaps are filled, else the centre may not hold and we shall be reverting to the same old story.