Before now, Vocational and Technology education was hardly in existence. The need for a vocational study was borne out of the desire to match students’ learning with what is obtainable at work. Nevertheless, as years elapse, the existing curriculum became too old, outdated, obsolete and no longer at par with employers’ and labour market demands. With this, there is widespread call for a new curriculum that will satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of users of vocational and technology graduates.
Generally, trends on its own refers to current happenings or contemporary activities. It can also refer to activities hoped to take place in the future. For instance, in the automobile industry, we can see vehicles of 2019 models even while we are still in 2018. This is a trend. So, a trend can refer, not only to current happenings but also to happenings that are futuristic. In essence, trends in curriculum development in vocational and technology education refers to current practices in the readjustments of vocational and technology curriculum. Previously, and partially till date, vocational and technology education curriculum has been largely based on theoretical perspectives. That is, vocational and technology education curriculum starts and ends in the classroom. Practice or actual live experience is hardly tied to the study of vocational and technology education curriculum.
According to Alade (2011),
“arising from the need for relevance in form of education for functional living, self-sustenance, and self-reliance, in Nigeria case, sporadic educational reviews which are indeed curriculum-based have been witnessed at various times. These have re-shaped educational thoughts and practices in Nigeria. The reason being that the opinions and solutions that key stakeholders purpose for society’s requests and needs for productivity and progress often make some of the components of the existing curriculum either obsolete or out of tune with currency. Whenever this happens, it sets pace for the country’s review initiatives in value-orientation, poverty eradication, wealth creation and job creation among many other reasons.”
Olibie (2013) also noted that;
“there is a growing recognition that education and the curriculum should prepare students for workplace, citizenship and daily living. Hence teaching and learning processes are being focused on how to prepare students for learning, living and thriving in the dynamic, cluttered, chaotic information environment of these first decades of the 21st century as well as how to prepare students for a changing world.
What these two authors are trying to say is that the graduates of vocational and technology education were not at par with employee demands and aspirations and that they are not at par with the demand of job specifics found in the labour market. The authors above implied that graduates should have been taught how work looks like and how it feels like; the actual work itself not something like it, so that when they come in contact with the work, the description will fit what they have been taught. It is against this lacuna in the curriculum that vocational and technology education stakeholders like educators, employees, parents, organizations amongst others have clamoured for the need for curriculum readjustments for meet up with current practices.
Specific Trends in Curriculum Development in Vocational and Technology Education
- Convergence of Vocational and Technology Education Curriculum with Job Specification and Employee Demands
Today, there is need to streamline vocational and technology education curriculum with what is obtainable in the labour market. This is to ensure that the training of vocational and technology education graduates is useful to them after graduation. If this is not done, the relevance of the programme may be opaque in the near future.
- The Need for a Refocused Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
There is clamour from nearly all quarters of the economy that graduates should be taught the use of computers and other ICT related gadgets in schools because the average office is turning into a virtual office. Hence, a graduate without ICT skills is likely to suffer with his/her certification. Currently a movement is toward Information and Communications Technology, low-cost, portable handheld devices for student use that can be connected through global networks and tailored for specific tasks or applications. These advancements in technology are leading to a multitude of approaches that are blending a milieu of curriculum that caters to the needs of learners worldwide.
- More Focus on Skills Acquisition
Most countries have undertaken major reforms of their curriculum within the past 15 years with increased emphasis on skills and dispositions, which are perceived as relevant to lifelong learning, employment and social participation. Most national curricula incorporate higher order thinking skills, multiple intelligences, technology and multimedia, the multiple literacy of the 21st century and authentic assessments. Life-long learning, creativity, Science, Technical and Vocational Education, Mathematics and global citizenship skills are part of the curriculum in all countries. Even in countries where the curriculum is structured in terms of individual subject areas, an interdisciplinary approach to learning is increasingly encouraged.
- Pattern of Delivery
Educational content and teaching-learning materials now appear to be more functional, diversified, and operational in nature. An increased emphasis is placed on relevance, flexibility, needs, and competence in curriculum delivery.
- Needs Assessment
Demographics, population, health, nutrition, and environment are becoming dominant factors in what appears to be a value-oriented instructional design process focused on the global community. Moreover, the very nature of educational structure that drives curriculum and educational methodologies is undergoing a significant change.
- Teaching Methods
There is emphasis on the need for teachers to use differentiated curriculum, multiple learning styles and engage in transformational teaching.
Information professionals have also created directories, in nearly all subjects in the curriculum, of what are viewed as the most useful and appropriate in their respective disciplines. Many online instructional delivery formats have been made available for teachers to access and use in curriculum delivery (for example, schemes of work, lesson plans and ideas, exemplification of learners’ work).
Further, many countries have introduced National Qualifications Frameworks; the shift to learning outcomes; and the move from subject specific to generic curriculum criteria. For instance in Nigeria, Obioma (2007:1-2) noted that some key curricular issues in the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) include:
- Identification of minimum competencies and aligning these to the methodology of classroom transactions (including pedagogical skills needed), instructional materials and
- suggested evaluation activities • Linking learning to the world of work of learners in the cultural context
- Emphasis on functional literacy, numeracy and strategic communication skills.
- Infusion of relevant and functional entrepreneurial skills using the relevant subject contents as drivers
- Consolidation of some contents and subjects in the basic education context thus reducing subject/content overload
- The inclusion of strategic life-long skills as well as positive national values, civic, moral and ethical education as a course of study, Infusion of elements of critical thinking Infusion of such emerging issues as HIV/AIDS education, anti corruption studies, capital market studies, etc
- Curriculum made flexible for adaptation to the socially marginalised (including nomadic and other migrant groups), vulnerable communities, adult and special needs learners
The emergent curriculum trends call for new skills, knowledge and ways of learning to prepare students with abilities and competencies to address the challenges of an uncertain, changing world. In curriculum’s knowledge-building role, there is a great desire for new global 21st century skills that are necessary foundations in education, and should be concretely should be taught over several years of schooling. This is in line Obanya (2009) who noted that the world is now a knowledge society and more jobs require people to be skilled and knowledgeable workers. Such skills include: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination. The current trends in curriculum could be characterized by what Priestly (2011) called meaningful and constructive forms of emergence in terms of individual emergence; for example, enhanced capacity of teachers to teach. Structural emergence, for example, the designation of new roles and systems for teachers and schools to facilitate the new policy. Cultural emergence, for example the refinement of the policy itself as a result of professional engagement of teachers.
Alade, I. A. (2011). Trends and Issues on Curriculum Review in Nigeria and the Need for Paradigm Shift in Educational Practice. Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies, 325-333.
Olibie, E. (2013). Emergent Global Curriculum Trends: Implications for Teachers as Facilitators of Curriculum Change. Journal of Education and Practice, 4(5), 161-167.