The Western and Northern Perspective of Curricula reformulation in the 4IR
Our previous blog post assessed the role of curricula in shaping learners to be empowered members of industry 4.0. Specifically , there was focus on how curricula provided for skills acquisition, that would be necessary for integration and participation in the 4IR. Having assessed the Southern and Eastern region of Africa as examples, the following blog will assess the Western (Nigeria) and Northern region (Egypt) and analyse how they are reformulating and designing their national curricula to meet the demands of the 4IR.
Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council as well as the Nigeria’s Agency for Curriculum Development have introduced a new model that emphasises on skills and academic development of learners. 1 Specifically, trade subjects are taught as complimentary subjects with academic oriented subjects.2 This allows students to attain specific vocational skills in relevant trade areas. The justification of implementing trade subjects is on the basis that students lack the “entrepreneurial skills and ingenuity” to apply acquired skills for profitable ventures.3 Therefore, through trade subjects students will gain practical experience and acquire “entrepreneurial competencies” that would assist with preparing them for the labour market.4 In addition, reformulation is ensuring curricula is more responsive to the critical needs of the state . 5 This involves the inclusion of financial literacy education , online safety education and capital market studies within the curriculum, to ensure Nigeria is harnessing human capital for a digitally inclined society.6 This highlights that curriculum is attempting to adequately address some aspects of technical and non-technical skills within the 4IR. However, there are pitfalls to the implementation of the new curriculum. This is evident with government failing to provide for digital devices in schools, hence limiting the growing rate of digital literacy within learning institutions .7 In addition, institutions lack internet access and those with mobile phones face the ongoing issue of “erratic” power supplies.8 Therefore , when reformulating curricula, the state should look towards current realities , where focus should be centred around mitigating the ‘digital divide’ prior to establishing a new curriculum.9
The standard national curriculum is held to be redundant in delivering quality education for the 4IR.10 The system has traditionally focused on “learning and high stakes final examinations” over “active learning and critical thinking”.11 This has led to the prioritisation of receiving credentials to assure employment, without paying attention to the existing skillset of individuals.12 With more than 700,000 Egyptians entering the labour market every year, Egypt needs to “provide a relevant and updated curricula” that would relate to a modern and changing society.13 In response to this, the Ministry of Education and Technical Education (MoETE) launched a series of reforms to align the state with the their developed 2030 strategic vision for social change, with a “devoted” 7th pillar that focuses on education and training. 14 MoETE’s objectives of reformulation are centred around transforming the curriculum into a competency-based curriculum.15 To actualise this, they are key components that have been identified. They include the new multidisciplinary curriculum.16
The new multidisciplinary curriculum is reflective of collaborative efforts with various stakeholders to formulate the General Framework for the General and Technical Education Curricula (GFGTEC). The GFGTEC is a 21st-century skills framework, that emerges from the UNICEF-MENA Life Skills and Citizenship Education (LSCE) framework.17 The LSCE is grounded in the principles of UNICEF framework .18 The framework and the curriculum are centred around fourteen skills that would be acquired by each child in the early stages of education.19 This is inclusive of the twelve skills from the UNICEF LSCE’s framework. The skills are divided into four dimensions of learning. They include; the cognitive dimension or Learning to now, the instrumental dimension or Learning to Do, the individual dimension or Learning to Be and the social dimension or Learning to Live Together.20 In addition to the fourteen, they are two skills proposed by the MoETE (accountability and productivity) to “fit into the Egyptian context”.21 This ‘formalises’ a drastic shift of Egyptian education , where “traditional methods of rote memorization and high stakes examinations are exchanged for a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning 21st Century skills .22 It is evident that the current design of curricula incorporates the non-technical skills of the 4IR , the use of technology as well in delivering these skills also contributes to the development of the technical skills of 4IR.
With 4IR looming around the corner, there is a growing need for curricula to be designed with the future in mind. This involves the preparation of the labour force form earlier stages of education to acquire the necessary pre-requisite skills to effectively integrate into the 4IR labour market. Considering the rapid pace at which the 4IR is happening, there is need for flexibility in the development of curricula to allow for changes to occur.
1 Oliver E, Global initiatives and Higher Education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution ; Agolla E J, Developing Critical Workplace Skills through Education in Africa : The Case of Industry 4.0 Revolution<span”> (UJ Press 2022, 175
7 Aina J, Entrepreneurial Education: Emerging Education 4.0 and Fourth Industrial Revolution in Nigerian Colleges of Education JGRESS , 18
10 Fernando M R, Amaechi U, Banerji A & Wang M, Education to Build Back Better, What Can We Learn from Education Reform for a Post-pandemic World; Moustafa N, Elghamrawy E, Katherine K & Yu (Claire) H, Education 2.0: A vision for Educational Transformation in Egypt (Springer 2022)
11 Alan S & Varma P , Strengthening the Egyptian education system: A recap from the global evidence for Egypt spotlight seminar on education  < https://www.povertyactionlab.org/blog/2-28-20/strengthening-egyptian-education-system-recap-global-evidence-egypt-spotlight-seminar> last accessed 28th May 2023
12 Saavedra J, Shaking up Egypt’s public education system< https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/shaking-egypts-public-education-system> last accessed 28th May 2023
UNICEF MENA, . Reimagining life skills and citizenship education in the Middle East and North Africa  <https://www.unicef.org/mena/reports/reimagining-life-skills-and-citizenship-education-middle-east-and-north-africa> last accessed 28th May 2023
20 UNICEF LSCE’s framework < https://www.unicef.org/mena/life-skills-and-citizenship-education> last accessed 28th May 2023
21 El-Zayat N, Egypt: K-12 Egyptian knowledge bank study portal and new form of assessment [ 2020] < https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/191341599145436193/pdf/Egypt-K-12-Egyptian-Knowledge-Bank-Study-Portal-and-New-Form-of-Assessment.pdf> last accessed 28th May 2023
22 Fernando (n16)