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Let Us Do It Sierra Leone Way

 

 

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  Currently, Sierra Leone has taken a very serious action for more intentional and innovative civic education. This is born out of the fact that civic education is a major way that governments can foster the values and capabilities necessary for people to be informed and engaged global citizens from the lower basic level ( Primary 1 -4 in Nigeria). The in-thing is how students must be taught to apply core values in different contexts and not to simply recognize them. Here, emphasis in on the application of these core values for the betterment of the citizenry and the society at large.

         Osasenaga Kelly Aghayere, Rachel Xu and Faraz Salahuddin (2020) observe that the converging crises of racial injustice, public health, climate, migration, and income inequity are evidence that the world needs citizens who have an unrelenting commitment to civic engagement, empathy and justice. To them, Civic education is a major way that governments can foster the values and capabilities necessary for people to be informed and engaged global citizens.

Over the months of January to June 2020, these researchers supported Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, its National Council for Civic Education and Development (NaCCED), and other key education stakeholders in the country in their ongoing efforts to create an innovative and intentional civic education curriculum that meets the needs of the present moment.

The primary objective of this worthy and timely collaboration was to create an effective framework to guide the instruction and evaluation of the nation’s new civic education curriculum at the lower primary school level (Grades 1-3 in Sierra Leone). This calls for moving from a traditional to an innovative approach to civic education.

 

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It is obvious that traditional civic education pedagogy does not adequately equip students with the learning that they need to actively engage in and address social issues. This shortcoming is due to several factors such as the emphasis on teaching facts through rote memorization, the restriction of civic mindedness to national borders, and a lack of emphasis on skill-building that would translate into lifelong civic participation. Before now, in Nigeria the shortcoming was on the absence and non-teaching of History in schools. Happily, this has been reversed. History is now being taught at all levels of education in Nigeria.  

In support of the Sierra Leone education  ministry’s reform agenda to address the pedagogical challenges highlighted above, research was carried out and  key learnings were distilled from international civics reform experience – especially from Botswana, Ghana and Zambia.

Based on the results from this research, a civic education instruction and evaluation framework that is anchored on core civic values as opposed to factual knowledge was developed. Because the internalization of civic values is key to the robust development of social empathy, justice and civic engagement, it was emphasized that values be placed at the center of any civic curriculum.

Below are the cores values that were distilled from discussions with Sierra Leonean partners:

  • Radical acceptance of diversity,
  • Gender equity,
  • Peace & tolerance,
  • Resilience,
  • Responsibility,
  • Self efficacy,
  • Innovation and growth.

 

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LEDAP trains 50 Educators in Bauchi State 

 The framework highlights how students must be taught to apply core values in different contexts, and not how to simply recognize them. Beginning with the students themselves, the five different contexts in which students will apply core values are: (1) the self, (2) the family, (3) the community, (4) the country, and (5) the planet.

After defining core values and how they can be applied in different contexts, four steps that are critical for effective implementation of the values-anchored framework were outlined as follows:

-          Identify key capabilities and knowledge

-          Develop guiding and testing questions

-          Design teaching activities

-          Create assessment tools and methods

The next stage is how Civic values would be made to be central to education efforts. Thus after a values-anchored curriculum has been collectively designed, the next stage is implementation. It is worthy to note that there are some important considerations that education officials and policy implementors ought to keep in mind. Specifically, it will be critical for efficacious value adoption to promote self-efficacy in students and to emphasize genuine learning during curriculum instruction. Both of these goals will also require real investments in teacher empowerment. Finally, it will also be crucial to place gender equity, social justice, civil society engagement and global citizenship at the core of civic focus.

 

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UBEC Model School in Cross River State

 Once civic learning is implemented in the classroom, a few strategy such as, operational and analytical considerations to support monitoring and evaluation in aggregate, at the school, community and country levels was highlighted. A comprehensive overview of this framework as well as discussion of key implementation considerations was delivered to the Ministry and NaCCED in July 2020 (Ref: Concept Summary document, 2020).  

Hopefully, this proposed values-anchored framework would prove useful for Sierra Leonean education partners, other educators and most especially the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, looking for means to strengthen the efficacy of civic education in their societies.

It cannot be overemphasized that in response to growing and worsening global challenges, there is an increasing need to revitalize civic education in order to equip students from the lower basic education  with values and skills to contribute towards the creation of a better, more just, and more empathetic society.

 

 

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