November 12, 2019

 The Curriculum Development Controversy: Diagnosis and Suggestions  

 Note: To view the entire paper, download the attached file  

The Center for Strategic Studies – University of Jordan held, on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, a seminar entitled:

Curriculum Development Controversy: Diagnosis and Suggestions

 Eight working papers were presented.

The Director of the Center, Dr. Zaid Eyadat, said that “Strategic Studies” organizes this symposium through the Public Policy Forum at the Center, with the aim of creating a specialized and public scientific discussion through which participants can build perspectives that help in planning and thinking about curricula, and also moves the public debate into a situation that helps citizens. And those interested in taking note of the dimensions of the subject and its basic data. 

He added that one of the objectives of the symposium is also to help the decision maker design and make decisions based on topical scientific foundations and a real awareness of public opinion debate and its interactions. 

The symposium included two sessions, the first under the title “Curriculum Development: Diagnosis and Vision,” chaired by the Minister of Education, Dr. Tayseer Al-Nuaimi, and the second, on “Curriculum Development: Suggestions and Recommendations,” chaired by former Minister Abdullah Al-Owaidat.

 The first session touched on several topics, including: national consensus and partnership, development of executive curricula, citations and authorship quality requirements, arbitration (extensive arbitration), as well as exploratory experimentation (good experimentation) and total experimentation.

Al-Nuaimi pointed out that “there are factors that affect the curricula, including those that are economic, political and social,” saying that “it must be recognized that there are two forces that constitute ideological polarization, namely, building the individual and developing the individual.”

Al-Nuaimi asked, “Why is the National Center for Curriculum Development its reference to the Prime Ministry and not the Ministry of Education?”

The participants in this session touched on the “controversy” surrounding the curricula, explaining that the plan that was developed to develop the curricula is “not wise.”

They attributed the reasons for the “significant decline in students’ levels to private schools and the government at the same time,” wondering about “the role of the Ministry of Education in the curricula development process.”

Participants noted “the impact of the World Bank on the education process”.

In addition, the former Minister of Education, Dr. Azmi Mohafza, presented a working paper entitled “Vision of the Supreme Council for Curricula,” in which he spoke about the structure and nature of curricula. 

He said that the curriculum amendment was not limited to mathematics, but included all curricula, adding that the National Center for Curriculum Development discussed the two books of mathematics and science, and compared them with international curricula. 

Mohafaza indicated that the “Collins” company was chosen, citing the challenges of the time factor and poor training. 

Governorate explained that “the center relies on committees only for curricula, which have become affiliated with the Ministry of Education that approved textbooks,” pointing out that “the books are not translated on (CD), while there is a teacher’s guide and (CD) translated.” 

Meanwhile, the former Minister of Education, Dr. Ibrahim Badran, pointed out, in a working paper entitled “Existing Curricula: Challenges and Imbalances,” to the failures that faced the educational curricula and the teacher’s priorities, saying that “there are problems, obstacles and challenges in the process of building curricula.”

Badran indicated that “it is not permissible to overlook international studies, as talking about international studies leads to talking about national studies,” saying, “There is no Jordanian authority that education is advanced, rather it is in decline.”

Badran referred to the “issue of politicizing education,” stressing the importance of “financing education. The problem is the book, not the curriculum.” 

For his part, the head of the Parliamentary Education Committee, Ibrahim Al-Badour, pointed out, in a working paper entitled “A Parliamentary Vision for Curricula”, that “there are shortcomings in the process of delivering the message to people in general. 

Al-Bdour stressed that “there are problems in the new books or curricula, in terms of reading and the mechanism of teacher training on the new curricula,” while pointing out “the need for the administration to be able to confront crises” if they occur, focusing on the importance of the media. 

Al-Bdour stressed the need for there to be rapprochement and consensus between the public and private sectors regarding the process of developing curricula, and working to reduce the gap between the two sides in this regard, stressing at the same time the importance of keeping pace with development in the humanities. 

For his part, the professor of curricula at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Jordan, and a member of the advisory committee of the Supreme Council for Curricula, Dr. Ramzi Haroun, focused during a working paper entitled “The General Framework of Curricula”, on the technical aspects related to curricula, stressing the importance of partnership and arbitration in the curricula development process. 

Haroun stressed the importance of the “knowledge perspective,” which focuses on acquiring knowledge and how to learn it, and then apply it, pointing out the need to focus on modifying curricula and not books. 

In addition, the participants, in the session, talked about the outcomes and expansion of education, saying that “there is a chronic problem in the curricula in general, as well as the failure to take into account individual differences.”

They stressed the importance of practical application in the education process, and focus on the student’s creativity.

Dr. Sarah Ababneh asked, “What kind of change is required?”, especially when we know that “the privatization of education has destroyed education,” stressing the importance of the role of the Ministry of Education.

For his part, Dr. Yousef Al-Sawalmeh stressed the importance of development in order to face changes and pay attention to quality, life skills and technology, saying that the success of development is closely linked with scientific studies and giving enough time to this process, focusing on feedback and benefiting from it.

Al-Sawalmeh pointed to the challenges facing the development process, the most important of which are: the sanctification of the old, as well as subjective criticism to a degree that can be described as “extremism” in criticism.

While Dr. Salman Al-Qadri said that the development of curricula is “weak”, as there must be a pre-, final and sequential evaluation, indicating that the thinking should focus on skills.

While former Minister Salama Al-Nuaimat asked, “Why did we delay, and others advanced?” Dr. Jumana Abu Hijleh said, “Is there a strategic decision to develop new curricula,” stressing the need for intensive training for male and female teachers before the start of the teaching process.

Professor Issa Nashwat said that with the change of knowledge at this speed, do we need knowledge or skill? Thus, how do we prepare the child to deal with the future.

Journalist Asmaa Farhan pointed out that “there is an administrative defect in the curricula,” asking, “Where is the Parliament’s oversight over the amendments to the curricula?”

At the end of the first session, the participants came up with several recommendations that focused on the necessity of the “National Center” addressing the curricula with a holistic view, provided that the other is not exceeded, stressing the importance of education, training and development.

While they stressed the need for this reform to be “gradual,” they said that there are problems around the center and the Ministry of Education.

They recommended that the National Center should have a guide to ensure the quality of books and curricula, pointing out that there is interest in Jordan in education, but there is no interest in curricula or books. 

As for the second session, which came under the title “Curriculum Development: Suggestions and Recommendations,” it was chaired by former Minister Abdullah Al-Owaidat, who indicated that “teachers did not receive adequate training. And my math and science books are translated books.” He said, “We are facing a dilemma.”

For his part, Deputy Head of Teachers Syndicate Nasser Al-Nawasra, who presented a working paper entitled “Teachers, Society and Curricula,” indicated a survey conducted by “Strategic Studies” on the curricula, which showed that 43.5% of Jordanians believe that the curricula do not match the students’ ability and are above their levels, while 30.8% opinion that it corresponds to the students’ ability to a medium degree, which indicates that the society follows the curricula to the extent of judging with this accuracy whether it is appropriate or not. 

The poll also showed that 63% had heard about the curricula protests, which confirms the society’s awareness and follow-up to this national issue, explaining that according to the poll, the main reason behind the protest against curricula is “the difficulty of the curricula and the inability of students,” as the percentage of those reached 67.5%, which It indicates “accurate awareness and deep understanding of the problem of curricula on the part of Jordanian society.” 

Al-Nawasra said that 75.8% of Jordanians supported the protests against the curricula, which confirms that the majority of Jordanian society is against the recent curricula amendments, while 65.2% supported the need for the Ministry of Education to be responsible for developing curricula. 

He pointed out that “the difficulty of teaching mathematics and science curricula, which is above the level of students, as well as the inappropriate time allocated for each lesson, stressing the need for a previous course for this course to pave the way for it in the kindergarten stage. 

Al-Nawasra explained that the late former head of the Syndicate of Teachers, Dr. Ahmed Al-Hajaya, “did not agree with the science and mathematics curricula, and so did we,” referring to the results of the committee’s study, which was formed by the former Minister of Education, to consider these two curricula, where 60 pages of notes were documented, varying between Deletion, replacement and modification. 

Al-Nawasra expressed his surprise that the Ministry of Education “circulated only 6 pages of the report,” stressing at the same time that “it is not permissible in any way to suggest or discuss dispensing with the general framework of the curricula, as requested by Collins.” 

He wondered, “How can the value, national, cultural, environmental, historical and religious dimensions be taken into account in the curricula when excluding the general framework of the curricula,” saying, “The basis of the problem is in the science and mathematics curricula, and it is caused by authorship without a reference to the general framework of the curricula.” 

Al-Nawasra also asked, “Why should foreign companies be hired, even though local companies are able to produce better products than Collins Company, in addition to that we do not need poor translation?”

He also asked, “Where is Palestine in our curricula?”. Occupied Palestine will not return until it is studied as an issue of an oppressed nation and people, and that it is an Islamic endowment.” 

Al-Nawasra recommended the necessity of returning the National Center for Curriculum Development to its mother incubator, the Ministry of Education, and its administrative affiliation with it, stressing the importance of reconstructing this center from curriculum experts and field workers away from political centers. 

He called for the establishment of a national bank of expertise, and the assignment of experts in its committees from the educational field, as well as the enactment of special legislation for the National Center that preserves the country’s value, belief and intellectual and historical heritage. 

Al-Nawasra stressed the importance of the principle of arbitration and consultation before issuing any document or book, postponing the application of any curricula and books for the next year, and not generalizing the teaching of any new courses before trying them on a representative sample of schools. 

He said that the principle of accountability must be established for everyone who worked in the curricula, and the necessity of stipulating this in the center’s system, stressing the need to involve the teachers’ union in the process of developing the curricula, as they are best able to understand the final stages and students’ needs and levels. 

Al-Nawasra also stressed the importance of referring to the general framework and the specific frameworks for each course on authoring, explaining that “any authoring of any course outside the general framework and the philosophy of the Ministry of Education is considered to be in violation of the Education Law, and requires accountability.” 

With regard to science and mathematics courses for the first and fourth grades, Al-Nawasra recommended withdrawing the courses from the students, and assigning teachers to teach the two curricula by achieving the specific outcomes of each topic, pointing out the importance of letting the teacher choose the appropriate means and examples so that the goals and outcomes are achieved. 

In turn, Dr. Thouqan Obeidat, in a working paper entitled “Curriculum Development: Necessities and Controls,” said that the general framework of the curricula “was with distinction, and more than one party contributed to it (universities, the Ministry of Education and the National Center),” stressing that “no one can He adds one letter that contradicts the constants of the nation. 

He added, “The general framework preserved the three basic constants, belief in God, His Messenger and His Books, and that the Jordanian people are part of the Arab nation, and on the liberation of Palestine and individual freedom and identity,” noting that “the center’s message focuses on building the personality of the individual.” 

Among the characteristics of the general framework, according to Obeidat, is that it includes transcendental and life-related concepts, as well as the construction of personality and work, in addition to the fact that it talks about thinking about a national human structure.

The general framework also talked about the standards of learning outcomes, where specifications have been set for a good book, and that knowledge is part of experience, in addition to that it will be based on factors, outcomes and expected movements, including: from teaching facts to concepts, from ready-made solutions to creating solutions, from consuming information To the production of knowledge, from extravagance in belief to frugality in belief.

Obeidat added, “The curricula will move us from professors to discipleship, from building identity to building self and identity, from narration to dialogue, from one method to distinct methods.” 

For his part, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Center for Human Rights, Dr. Irhil Gharaibeh, presented a working paper entitled “The Value Vision for Curriculum Development”, which included an attempt to lay out the parameters of a comprehensive value vision for the Jordanian educational curriculum document, as it is still witnessing heated debate among the Jordanian people, and in my hands Value vision It is necessary to point out some issues. 

He said that the main curriculum document is one of the tools for building the human being in an integrated manner, in mind, conscience, spirit and body, in order to be able to make life and successfully confront problems.

Gharaibeh added that it is assumed that educational curricula should be based on a set of general principles and foundations that are not subject to disagreement among wise people, and a wide range of specialists should be chosen who enjoy broad representation and consensus from all components and different segments of society, and enjoy great confidence and deep respect from the vast majority of members of society .

He stressed the need for the curricula to avoid political quarrels, ideological and partisan differences, to preserve the collective conscience of society, and to stay away from the paths of extremism from various sides, adding that it is better to stay away from problematic personalities that provoke division and intolerance, and do not improve acceptance of the other.

Gharaibeh also stressed the need to benefit from the successful experiences of other peoples in this field, past and present, without this leading to the loss of our authentic cultural identity and the distinctive civilizational feature that has settled over hundreds of years.

He pointed to the importance of building on previous efforts while following the approach of purification and redress based on an objective scientific evaluation, far from the impressionistic approach or the individual revolutionary shouts and the accusatory, radical, revolutionary logic, which leads to the creation of a societal conflict with ominous consequences, and away from the method of excitement and mobilization, and distance from a path Populism in dealing with curriculum issues.

Gharaibeh said that the Arab-Islamic heritage represents a huge, great and rich wealth for our peoples and our nation, and it is the subject of great respect and appreciation, and it is the subject of great benefit according to two criteria, the first: that heritage is neither sacred nor infallible. Leaves whole. As for the second: heritage is not a burden, nor is it a black pile, as some portray it, but rather it is a matter of pride, and at the same time a subject of criticism, study and evaluation, and it is an important source of knowledge and science.

He added that our historical figures are respected, appreciated and cared for, and we celebrate them, just as nations celebrate their great men, because they are beacons for generations, a source of inspiration and a source of emulation without exaggeration or intimidation. We are an extension of a nation deep in history that has its civilization, achievements and contributions that deserve pride and pride.

Gharaibeh added, “We need to instill confidence in the souls of young people in their nation, civilization, history and culture, so as not to make of them generations sprouted like bushes scattered by the wind, without roots, identity or affiliation, because that poses the greatest threat to their future when we make of them lost groups that are not based on history, and are not connected With a past.

He stressed the importance of arousing enthusiasm in the hearts of generations, in order to aspire towards rebuilding and re-competition in the field of human civilization, which does not respect the weak and does not give weight to the lost on the sidewalks of existing civilizations, and the loafers at the doors of the strong.

Gharaibeh explained that Islam is a great resource of the great civilizational nation, and it represents a set of general principles and established rules and represents a system of noble and wonderful values.      

He added, “We used to represent these principles and values ​​throughout the stages of history, and this representation is a human effort and a practical practical achievement, which reached some levels of success and excellence in some stages and failed in other stages, stating, “In the present era, we have to monitor these experiences and stand on success stations.” And the failure of our long march with courage and insight.”

Gharaibeh stressed, in this context, the necessity of liberating Islam from the tutelage of political regimes and those in power, so that it would not be a means to subject peoples to oppression and tyranny.

He also stressed the need to liberate Islam from the guardianship of all groups and parties, extremist and non-extremist, from the perspective that Islam is a civilized framework for the entire nation and a historical record for it with all its components, and it is a factor of unity, strength and elevation and is not a place for division or simulating confrontation between the components of one nation.

He said that Islam is the advancement factor civilized comprehensive, far from provoking religious strife and sectarianism, because he was able to fuse the colors, races, peoples and nations in the crucible of civilized humanity and wide through the appeal immortal: “O mankind! We have created you male and female and made you into nations and tribes The most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most pious of you. Indeed, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” And through the call: “And help one another in righteousness and piety, and be sympathetic to God.”

Gharaibeh said that the value dimension in educational curricula is one of the most important required dimensions that should be taken care of, because the value system is the main axis in the process of human building, and which constitute the most important parameters of the required personality.

He added that the disparity between a person and a person and between a people and a people and a nation and a nation, often depends on the difference in the representation of the system of values ​​individually and collectively in society and the state.

Gharaibeh added that the value view should be done by extrapolating the weaknesses and shortcomings of the Jordanian and Arab personality, and perhaps the great discrepancy in estimating the size of the defects may appear from person to person and from elite to elite, and from one stage to another.

He pointed out that these aspects of the Jordanian personality can be monitored as follows: The first aspect related to the values ​​of scientific thinking and the person’s acquisition of logic and critical approach, on the way to building an independent personality that possesses the skill of dealing with existence in a scientific way.

The second aspect: the ability to strike a balance between the individual and the collective, and in this context, I think that there is an exaggeration in individualism that reaches the point of excessive selfishness, and a weakness in the collective sense and adaptation to society, and acquiring the skill of cooperation with the environment, as well as reaching the stage of organized coordination and then To integration, and it is noticeable that the rampant weakness in building community networks capable of practicing collective life, and dispensing with the role of the rentier state so that societies are self-contained and achieve a minimum level of independence.

And the third aspect: the values ​​related to the productive personality, meaning that there is clarity in the pervasiveness of the consumer personality and the culture of consumption and immersion in it, and the absence of a culture of work and a culture of acquiring a profession, and then going towards a culture of economy and management at the level of the person, family, neighborhood and village.

The fourth aspect is related to national affiliation. It is noticeable that the political and cultural arena witnessed in previous years a weakness in the system of national affiliation, and patriotism for the sake of broad affiliations at the Arab national, Islamic or international level.

The fifth aspect: the system of values ​​of urbanization, art, taste, beauty, and values ​​based on accurate feeling and sensitivity to the problems of others, respecting their opinions, preserving the dignity of the other, mastering the etiquette of hadith, the etiquette of dialogue and disagreement, the etiquette of neighborhood, fellowship and work.

And the sixth aspect: related to the values ​​of unity and bridging the gap between the segments of society and its components.

Gharaibeh said that the value framework in most cases grows in the collective conscience and is implanted in the souls and is consolidated through coexistence of values, adding that it is possible to address misconceptions and misconceptions and to maximize positive values.

With regard to religion, Gharaibeh explained that it constitutes an important factor in facilitating the establishment of positive values ​​away from the intolerant sectarian curriculum, in addition to the need to find a unified educational system at the level of the government sector through which the generation is melted into one similar melting pot, building a unified culture and a unified vision.

The seventh aspect: the values ​​of freedom and liberation and the values ​​related to human rights and the right of peoples to self-determination and democracy, which promote the values ​​of justice and equality under the umbrella of the law, and the ability to choose and elect away from narrow regional affiliations, and away from regional, religious, sectarian and ethnic fanaticism.

Gharaibeh emphasized that there is no way to do that except through coexistence in a healthy and sound reality from which these diseases are completely excluded. 

For his part, the Dean of Prince Al-Hussein Bin Abdullah College of International Studies, Dr. Muhammad Al-Qatatsheh, said in a working paper on “Teaching Curricula: Dialogue Inside and Out”: “He does not believe that the national curricula were bad, and they do not need to be changed.”

He added, “The dominance of the education movement is the Islamic trend,” pointing out that “when we talk about education, we talk about the middle class.” 

Although al-Qattasha admitted that “there is a problem in defining the general framework of the curricula,” he clarified that “there are hands that want to disrupt the curricula without reaching a solution.” 

He stressed the importance of “that there should be coordination between the general framework of curricula and international curricula,” recommending the need to “use national materials, including the teachers’ union, when amending curricula.” 

He expressed his belief that “external support is usually conditional on changing curricula,” referring to globalization and its impact on all changes that occur in our society. 

In addition, the participants in this session questioned “about the development of the philosophy of the general framework of the curricula,” calling for the need to explain this philosophy and its mechanisms. 

They said that there is a focus on mathematics and science, adding, “The idea of ​​translating my science and mathematics books is an old and renewed idea.” 

The participants also asked, “Why is there no drawing of the reproductive system in the curricula?, and how is the theoretical framework applied to reality?”, noting at the same time that “there is no complete system for student discipline.” 

Al-Nawasra stressed, “We are not against sexual education, but there must be discipline at this stage.” 

The Center for Strategic Studies said, during a statement at the beginning of the symposium, that the curricula in educational institutions constitute the cornerstone and most important in educational processes, along with teachers and educational institutions. 

He added, the importance of school curricula has increased due to major developments in technology such as computing and networking, which cast heavy shadows on the educational process, its philosophy and its mission. 

The Center continued, as the necessity to review and develop curricula increased, but also to reconsider its philosophy and vision that was established to be in line with the major economic and social transformations that change today and in the future the business, needs, and priorities of nations, individuals and states. 

He explained that the importance of human capital (which includes the cognitive, life and health skills of citizens) in development and the economy has advanced to represent the main priority in development and reform. Business, professions and markets have also undergone major changes that require a review of educational curricula in order to rehabilitate students according to new requirements and challenges, and the network and technology allow Developed today, new opportunities in developing educational processes, including curricula, of course, in a way that reduces costs and enables students and citizens to self-education and continuous, and activates the role of the individual and family in participating in educational processes This calls for reconsidering the construction and distribution of educational curricula in line with new roles and opportunities. 

The “Strategic Studies” indicated that the educational curricula in Jordan face other challenges of their own, as World Bank reports show the weak abilities of students to achieve and possess the knowledge and skills necessary to build human capital, as the cognitive achievement of students is less than the number of school years. 

A large percentage of students in the first school years lack the assumed basic skills, and a large percentage of teachers do not have sufficient competence to absorb and teach the curricula, and a large percentage of students graduate from high school with knowledge and skills that are much less than the requirements of work and university studies, according to the center. 

The issue of curricula, due to the new and influential role of social networks, turns into a public opinion issue that occupies the interest of large groups of citizens, and rumors, interests, opinions and viewpoints overlap in a way that complicates the ongoing debate on the subject, and may impede the opportunity for institutional and scientific work to review and develop curricula. A great opportunity to transform the curricula into a national issue in which all citizens participate, as it can also be a practical exercise in democracy and elections, and the management and organization of the public sphere. 

Regarding the wave of protest and criticism about the new curricula for the first and fourth grades in science and mathematics, the Center for Strategic Studies conducted an opinion poll on the subject. The poll showed that 37 percent believe that the current curricula are commensurate with the students’ intellectual and mental abilities, while 43 percent think that cent as above their level.  

47 percent stated that the curricula are in agreement with Jordanian culture, customs and traditions, while 29 percent answered that they do not. 

39 percent of the respondents believe that the curricula of private schools are better than the curricula of public schools, compared to 28 percent who consider the governmental curricula better, while 24 percent do not see a difference between private and public schools. 

Sixty-three percent said that they know about the protests against the new curricula, while 37 percent like that they do not know, and among those who know, 69 percent answered that they support the protesters against the new curricula, and 77 percent of those who know about the protests said that the protesters are from the people. Only 5 percent said the protesters were teachers. 

And 68 percent of the protesters said that the reason for protesting was the difficulty of the curricula, and 8 percent said that the reason for protesting was the curricula’s violation of religion, customs and traditions. Sixty-five percent of the protesters demanded that the preparation of curricula be assigned to the Ministry of Education