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Analyzing Puntland’s ‘National Curriculum’

By Abdirasaq H. Nuurre, PhD

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze ‘Puntland National Curriculum Framework’ (PNCF) in order to understand its meanings.  The paper investigates the following areas of the document: curriculum documentation and origins, curriculum proper and recommendations.

It responds as well to several questions on the subject of curriculum concepts, such as scope and sequence, syllabus, content outline, standards, textbooks and planned experience.  Curriculum in use, critiques and part two recommendations will be discussed in a separate part two section. 

Curriculum Documentation and Origins 

This analysis was based on the PNCF document, which is the written or the official curriculum intended to give instructors sources for planning instructions and assessing learners. It was designed also for school administrators to effectively supervise instructors and hold them responsible for their practice and teaching outcomes.  I could not find published items or other materials that describe the history of the document.  I was not able as well to communicate with the people and institutions involved in the development stages of PNCF to understand about the planning process of the document.  However, since the document contains learning objectives, philosophy statements and evaluation and teaching methods, it is a reliable source that can be used for analysis (Posner, 2004).

Even though PNCF developers used the phrase “National Curriculum”, Puntland State principles are relevant to the document, i.e., Puntland is a northeastern Federal State of Somali Republic.  Using such phrase can be ambiguous, yet at the same time reasonable since Puntland is one of the main sponsors for the ongoing discussion on the National Curriculum Development between the Federal Government and the Federal Member States.  The aspects of analysis that PNCF contains are all three stages of Posner’s curriculum analysis: curriculum documentations and origin, curriculum proper and curriculum in use.  PNCF includes eleven section titles, which incorporate all three phases of this analysis.  I have not been able to uncover the limitations of the curriculum.

Development of the Curriculum 

PNCF document was developed in 2015 under the direction of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Puntland Government of Somalia.  The cast of characters involved in its development stages comprised European Union, UNICEF, Africa Educational Trust (AET) and “Puntland Society.”  The document was officially published at the time Hon. Ali Haji Warsame was the Puntland Minister of Education.  The respective roles of the foreign characters were not openly defined in the curriculum.  However, the minister, without giving additional information, was grateful to their “technical and financial assistances for the development of this document.” Besides, PNCF developers did not clearly explain the roles of learners, teachers, subject matter, and milieu or the setting where education takes place.  However, without additional description, they cited a participatory process involved a wide cross-section of the “society in Puntland.” 

Planning Elements

There are at least four types of planning elements that shaped and dominated PNCF’s development process.  The first planning element was the purpose of the curriculum, which was delineated in seven separate goals developers termed ‘National Goals of Education’.  These goals consisted of moral development goals, science and technology goals, environment conservation goals, health promotion goals, governance goals and global oriented goals.  In the objective planning, the curriculum developers assumed the educational ends of the document represented by these seven goals.  However, while these goals of the curriculum are relevant to the learners’ needs at large, they did not explain a) how the curriculum orders these goals based on learners’ needs, b) what educational experiences the document would provide that are likely to attain these specific goals, c) whether the curriculum designers studied the learners before they develop the program of study, and d) whether these goals are the desired educational objectives in Puntland. The second planning element shaped the curriculum was the content of the curriculum.  PNCF included the different levels of education.  They comprised early childhood education, primary education (lower and middle), secondary education, non-formal education, vocational education, and higher education.  These education levels are the learning structure aimed for the expansion of Puntland education strategy.  Each of these levels has certain objectives clearly outlined in the curriculum.  For instance, at the end of the primary education, students will achieve the essential “cognitive, social and pre-vocational skills” that will enable them appreciate a safe, healthy and useful living and add to the growth of the local community and the nation at large.

The third planning element was the subject matter that would be taught in the classroom. The curriculum designers termed this as “Curriculum Structure” or learning areas and outcomes. The subject matter or the learning areas of the primary and secondary school education programs included mathematics, science, business, agriculture, social studies, technology, arts and craft, physical education, languages and governance. These topics are the “core curricula areas.” There are other subordinate subjects that include in the curriculum structure such as peace and conflict studies, child and human right, environmental studies, health and nutrition, gender, global issues HIV-AIDS and TDs, drugs, and culture and heritage.  There are extra curricula activities students will attain besides learning the core subjects including clubs, sports, and cultural activities.  The fourth planning component of the curriculum is the sequences in which these levels of education and the subjects that are taught in the class would be carried out.  The sequence of the levels of education was organized vertically, i.e., each grade level has a sequence of courses that prepares learners for the next grade level of education.  The learning perspective behind the curriculum is a) to develop students’ understanding of the subject matter, b) to expand their necessary skills, and c) to increase their intellectual capacity as they move through these levels of education. 

Guiding Theories

PNCF did not overtly mention its theoretical basis.  Perhaps, the developers were not aware of the curriculum model that dominated their mission or they, on purpose, decided not to state any theory in the document.  Philosophically, the document was expected to achieve the learning needs of the students to help them benefit from the next education levels.  That is an elusive statement which did not clarify the theoretical position of the document.  It seems PNCF developers have used several theories including Traditionalist, Experientialist and Constructivist Perspectives.  Needless to say, these perceptions have opposing approaches to learning; however, having them in a curriculum can generate positive results: protecting the values and the morals of the community, while these values and ethics are subject to constant changes for better education outcomes.  On one hand, the developers aimed to transmit the long-standing cultural and societal values of the local community to the children (offspring) through “curriculum values.”  These values included personal values, family values, community values, and national values. Thus, the document was intended to pass on the “accumulated wisdom” of the parents to the children. As a result, the Traditional philosophy dominates to a certain extent the objectives and the learning outcomes of the curriculum, rather than the process of the learning activities. It is the traditional side of the curriculum, which was clearly planned to please the traditional heads and the religious groups.  The values and the ethics of the local community were protected and their children were “elevated into the species.”  That is a teacher-centered teaching approach as well.

On the other hand, the learning process, e.g., the contents, the teaching methods, and the assessment processes are all dominated by components from Experientialists and Constructivists’ perspectives, which address the needs and the interests of students as against the Traditionalists’ concept.  In the Experientialists opinion, the curriculum encourages teachers to facilitate learning that promotes what students encounter in their daily lives, i.e., experiential learning (Posner, 2004).  The document clearly stated that teachers should employ teaching and learning methods that promote experiential learning, i.e., learning through action, learning by doing, learning through experience, and learning through discovery (PNCF, 2015).  PNCF included as well the bases of Constructivists perspective. It encourages teachers to facilitate teaching and learning that promote critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving.

That is a meaningful learning approach to understand “the abstract ideas” as opposed to rote memorization.  These ideas are progressive education values.  To be exact, they promote student-centered teaching and learning style intended for a comprehensive social reform through active learning, experiential learning, and skills development.

Read more: Analyzing Puntland’s ‘National Curriculum’ 

Abdirasaq H. Nuurre, PhD

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