Curacao: curriculum development and learning strands
Foundational Education was implemented in the Antilles in 2002, which entailed a comprehensive innovation process. Among other things, 8 education areas where established. The attainment goals of the 8 education areas are crystallised into core objectives and intermediate objectives. These objectives indicate what students at least should acquire related to attitudes, knowledge and skills. The curriculum framework for Foundational Education broadly describes how these core objectives and intermediate objectives could be achieved. 

Teachers have received the objectives and the curriculum framework documents as guidance for the design of education. In practice, however, these documents do not provide sufficient guidance yet. There was an expressed need to further develop the core objectives into learning strands for the different education areas. In 2010, a working group of the Antilles Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports (OCWS) has paid a visit to SLO as a preparation for the Learning Strands Foundational Education project. After this work visit, it was concluded that a thorough problem and context analysis should be carried out, before starting up the learning strands trajectory. It was considered important to first map the way in which schools enacted Foundational Education at the time. The problem and context analysis should help to prioritize bottlenecks and to find solutions for short term, mid term and long term.

Problem and context analysis

The analysis consisted of:

  • An exploration of the existing knowledge base, including the report ‘Steps towards a better future’, ‘Design Plan Foundational Education’ and the Framework for a Student Care System for Foundational Education
  • Joint reflection on the problem description of Foundational Education by carrying out a problem and needs analysis, whereby the discrepancy between the envisaged situation and the current situation was mapped
  • Joint reflection on suitable solutions for the problems with Foundational Education
  • Joint reflection on an action plan for a meeting with stakeholders from the education sector, to elaborate on the problem analysis and to obtain support in the field.

Action plan learning strands

During the first half of 2012, the government started with the Learning Strands Foundational Education project. SLO was asked to think along in the role of ‘critical friend’.

The assignment consists of:

  • Supporting source research (literature research, analysis of existing products, interviewing stakeholders who are directly involved in relevant developments), with the objective to develop design guidelines
  • Conducting interviews with foundations
  • Obtain information from experts regarding learning strands
  • Joint reflection on the design of the organisational structure
  • Joint reflection on communication and anchoring support (e.g. (digital) news letter, work conferences, formative evaluations)
  • Supporting the design of concept design principles
  • Supporting the launch conference 
  • Supporting work meetings
  • Supporting the set up of an inventory of available learning resources
  • Supporting the set up of a plan for implementation and evaluation of learning strands.

Training module learning strands design

During the second half of 2012, SLO carried out a training module. This training aims to equip the project team and the development teams in such a way that they are able to professionally carry out the learning strand development trajectory, as independently as possible. Project development teams are developing learning strands of four different learning areas:

  1. Language, Literacy and Communication: Papiamentu/Dutch
  2. Arithmetic and Mathematics
  3. People and Society
  4. People, Nature and Technology.

The assignment consisted of the development and delivery of the training module. The training module entailed a generic part for all participants and a specific part per learning area. The aim is to realise a joint language and conceptual framework, shared functions of curriculum, design criteria and shared understanding of and agreement on the development process.

The training content contained curriculum reform and curriculum development theory. The curriculum development stages, including formulating design specifications, formative evaluation and evaluative quality criteria were presented and discussed, connected to the local Curacao context. The importance of learning strands and how to develop them was also discussed.