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Telecentre Academy
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Principles and guidelines on curriculum development and implementation for the East African Telecentre Academy

Definition of a curriculum
The original meaning of curriculum in Latin meant a race – a specified distance to be run. In education, where the word curriculum has been imported, like in a race, there are starting points, purpose destinations/targets and specifications of routes. A good curriculum therefore presupposes good planning – one of the purposes of this workshop.

Curriculum can be broadly defined as sum total of all the experiences a learner undergoes under the guidance of the school, institution/telecenter. The specific and formal knowledge and skills that the learners or managers will acquire from a Telecenter course/programme constitute a core curriculum. However, there are many there are many other “things” the course participants acquire incidentally (or “accidentally”) that are not planned for and yet are important skills, values or even knowledge in the life of the Telecenter manager, student or user. Examples of unplanned curriculum are many. These can include; communication skills, organizational skills – organized office, workshop/laboratory, documents/files - mobilization and public relation skills, moral and social etiquettes etc. All this stuff is called the “hidden curriculum” and the process of acquiring it is “incidental learning”. The Tele centers must therefore be organized and with a well enriched learning environment.

The main elements of a curriculum
The main components of curriculum are
i)Aims and objectives
Why should Telecenter managers be taught managerial or ICT skills?
Why should Telecenter practitioners acquire new skills?
(Participants to raise more questions on the “whys”/purposes related to Telecenter activities/projects)

ii)Content/subject matter: what should learners, participants be taught so to answer the “why” of (i) above; e.g. what skills, knowledge, values do you give/share with some one to make him/her a good manager or an effective competent Telecenter staff member?
iii)Methods – How will the skills, knowledge, values be developed in the Telecenter manager, staff or participant? What strategies can be put in place to achieve the objective(s) stated above?
iv)Evaluation – How will you be able to establish that the “why” (objectives) the “what” (content) and the “how” (methodology) were well covered? Evaluation helps the in-charge of the Telecenter programme/activities to improve on the other elements of the curriculum i.e. objectives, content and methods.
The interrelatedness of the elements of the curriculum can be illustrated as follows:



The process of curriculum Development
The following stages have to be followed while developing a new curriculum;
i)Situational Analysis
Some important facts and figures must be established first before developing the curriculum. This is done through baseline surveys/or Needs Assessment – e.g;
The potential trainees – (managers, staff, other users, their experiences and educational background)
Infrastructure at Telecenters
Examples, statistics and activities of the Telecenters (existing Telecenter and existing curriculum)
Relevancy of Telecenter to their communities
Government policy on ICT; Non-Formal-Education, potential mentors, resource persons and/ or counselors
Accessibility to sources of energy (electricity)

Participants to give more points on establishing the status quo
Without a Situational Analysis you can not develop a good and realistic curriculum.

Information gathered should reveal the following:
Community needs that can be addressed using Telecenter approach
The strengths and challenges in the different curricular contexts e.g. Economic, Social and Political contexts.
The need for improvement on present curriculum or starting/developing a good curriculum
The particular aspects to be reviewed/developed
The feasibility and necessary resources available and what is needed
The sources of the required resources and how much of it
N.B Use the SWOT Analysis to analyse the information gathered

In summary, Situational Analysis involves:-
Identifying tasks and problems and seeking possible solutions.
Identifying difficulties and possible areas of resistance
Clues to planning for the resources and the organizational changes that will be required.

ii. Formulating objectives
Are specific statements of purpose to suggest immediate results
Are more specific than goals and the specificity is increased as one advances from programme objectives to a module and from a unit to lesson /lecture objectives.
Are statements of purpose to help our planners develop purposeful instructional programmes
Are a justification for the need of providing education and a slogan to solicit support for relevant education
Help guide the educational process. You cannot decide what or how to teach, without knowing why you do it.
Try to improve the practice of education by getting clarity about educational ends
Are a test to be applied to the educational process giving a precise basis for evaluation and determining the degree to which the educational programme is useful

Curriculum objectives of any program, institution or education system constitute the behaviours which the learners have to show or exhibit if the aim of the course is attained e.g. what skills they should possess, what knowledge and insights they should have, what attitudes and values they should develop. Objectives are derived from analysis of the situation. They have to reflect
-The needs of the society
-The needs of the teacher, instructor/programme manager
- The needs of the learner/ users

This is because curricula are prepared so that people may learn. What is learnt is utilized by the people in society. For example a product of a telecenter can use CDS, Videos to teach, sensitize and teach farmers on better methods of farming.

There are specific considerations we need to make when making objectives. These include:

Educational philosophy (and other philosophies/vision)of a country
Government education policy
The level of development in the country
The teaching force and its support systems
The course or programme delivery systems
The contemporary society
International developments
The target population
National sets of values
The evaluation methods
Psychology –the way children and adults learn

The objectives should be closely related to.
The national education policy on ICT development, management what to teach and assessment of learning
The different levels and types of educational programmes and what the ICT and the media can offer to managers and users
Different themes to be covered in the Telecenter programme
Needs and aspirations of the community and the Telecenters e.g. development, health, skills production and harmonious living.

N.B: The new trend now is to state the learning, outcome and the competences learners are supposed to exhibit by the end of the programme.

iii. Selection of content
Curriculum content is a body of facts, ideas, concepts and skills that are presented, discussed and involved in the course. The content selected should reflect the pre-determined curriculum objectives and experiences needed by the learner.

Guidelines for selection
Prioritise: select what is basically needed in specific circumstances. It should therefore not be overcrowded.
Balance: Ensure that the content is properly balanced in terms of time and resources available
Completeness: It should properly cater for all the three domains psychomotor (hand skills), Cognitive (head-knowledge) and effective (heart-attitudes/values)
Sequence: it should be properly sequenced i.e. simple to complex, known to unknown and spiraled
Comprehensiveness: It should include all the necessary details needed by a specific learner.

Need for selection
Due to the ever changing society, both local and international, there is needed to select from the abundance of generated knowledge and skills.
There is need to remain current by replacing content that may be outdated
Quality: There is need to ensure quality
Quantity: There is need to gauge how much to cover on a particular course.
Scope: helps in demarcating or deciding on the breadth and depth of what to cover.

Criteria for selecting content
Selection of contents is always based on the following criteria:
Philosophical: The knowledge we select must be of established value to participants and the society they are going to serve after learning.

Psychological: This means that what is selected should meet the needs and interests of the learners. The psychology of adult learners should be learned and applied

Sociological/cultural: What society has achieved, its institutions, aspirations, traditions, beliefs etc should guide selection of content. This is because some of these will themselves form the content of courses. For example in Uganda today we have issues of gender, environment, self reliance, poverty alleviation, addiction, HIV/AIDS, small scale enterprises e.g. ICT cafes. These are social issues that should be considered when developing curricula.

Organisation, structuring or sequencing of content/learning experiences
Any curriculum content needs to be properly selected and organized. The following include the different ways of organizing content;

i.Chronological order: Selecting and sequencing content in order of how things happened e.g. what happened first, followed etc.
ii.Causes and effect: The underlying principles resulting into knowledge.
iii.Structural logic: This refers to the use of normal procedure to organize content e.g. wearing a vest before a shirt
iv.Problem centred: Basing on a problem to learn.
v.Spiral: Continuous re-introduction of the main ideas of a topic as you proceed to the next topic or level
vi.Psychological: organizing content basing it on the interest of the learners
All these are just some of the ways in which content can be organized. As one organizes the content you have to determine the learning experiences e.g. Knowledge experiences- (What will they learn?)
Skills experiences (What do we want them to be able to do?)
Attitudes/values-(What do we want them to feel)

Building/ developing the program
i) The programme content should take care of the following factors:
The outcome of the situational analysis
The aims and objectives (or learning outcomes and competences) of the programme.
The regulations of the awarding institution
Relevant (and where applicable) government policies e.g. concerning ICT, Public Service, Commission or Education Service Commission. After the course some one may want to seek formal employment using the awarded certificate therefore the need to know Government policies.

ii) Activities done during the stage of writing the syllabus and producing required materials
Stating the programme aims and objectives
Selecting suitable and relevant content written in logical sequence at all levels of the primary school considering content, structure scope and sequence
Designing the teaching- learning activities and methods
Organizing and integrating the content with learning experiences
Identifying resources and producing materials required for implementing the programme
Allocating time and providing guidelines for implementing the programmes
Defining required facilities e.g. laboratories, workshops, field work etc.
Identifying personnel needed and defining their roles in the implementation, e.g. teachers, school managers and support staff.

NB. The programme managers must answer the question on how the heterogeneous nature of the learners will be taken care of. That is, the minimum entry requirements for the programme must be agreed upon or predetermined/set by the awarding institution. Normally, students who are over qualified have to adjust downward. Or different layers of curricula and therefore different awards are put in place.
There is also need to establish whether the programme involves two levels i.e. training users and training of trainers of users.

iii) Adoption and adaptation of the programme
How does the local (national) telecenter programme relate to the Regional, Continental and Global Telecenter programmes? Adoption and adaptation of the programme must not ignore the demands/regulations of the awarding institution and realities on the ground (Situational Analysis).usually the “home grown” Programmes are preferred.

iv) Evaluation and Assesment
Continuous assessment
What is Continuous Assessment and what are its advantages?
C.A also has challenges e.g. the wide spread nature of learners-even if it involves e-learning or print modules.
Telecenter programme is a skill-oriented programme therefore the learners must be assessed “in action” in addition to theory.
How do the mentors and resource persons contribute in the continuous assessment?

Final examinations
Are written examinations necessary? The Ugandan education system (Including universities ) is obsessed with examinations
Who will be in charge?
What is/are the venue(s)?
Who meets the cost?
Share experience of the C-TEP programme of MOES, AGA KHAN and KYU

NB. The outcome of continuous assessment and final examinations can respectively feed into the formative and summative evaluation of the programme. Evaluation helps to improve on the other elements of the curriculum.

The programme and materials designed to be out i.e. presented or piloted. This helps to establish its viability and feasibility, strengths and weaknesses. These will be reflected in the comments and reports received from the trial evaluation. These comments will guide in making adjustments e.g. subtraction and addition of content. In summary, piloting helps to refine the programme in question. Piloting activities include; training, monitoring, evaluation, instrument design, data collection, analysis and report writing.

Activities handled by teachers (or Telecenter managers, staff) as curriculum implementers:
Experimenting the curriculum programmes in carefully selected schools/Telecenters to find out:
How the teachers telecenter managers and staff and community learners will receive it.
The extent to which the curriculum meets the needs of the stake holders
Areas where the curriculum meets the needs of the stakeholders
Areas where the curriculum requires modification
Whether the curriculum can be easily interpreted and used within the given conditions and resources
How well the programmes focus on curriculum aims, objectives, the national goals and educational policy
Using the data from trial to improve identified areas

Training the required personnel
(a) Approval of the curriculum by the Ministry Of Education & Sports and other ministries and NGOs for use in all its Telecenters as part of the education systems, e.g. the ICT Telecenters syllabus e.g. for Non Formal Education groups.

vi) Implementation
The refined programme is then disseminated to the appropriate institutions and delivered to all the target learners at a particular level. This is sometimes called full scale trying out which preceeds institutionalization. Monitoring and evaluation activities are conducted to provide further refinement. The activities under piloting are continued here.

This includes on the spot check of activities that are concerned with the implementation of the programme in order to:
Ascertain whether implementation is according to plan
Ascertain feasibility and viability
Identify strengths and weakness of the programme
Establish the extent to which the objectives of the programme are being achieved
Give expert advice on the implementation process
Collect data that can assist during curriculum review
Collect programme evaluation data

The monitoring is done (or organized) by programme managers.

1.What is a Telecenter and who is a Telecenter manager?
2.What are the characteristics, features, qualities of a good Telecenter manager?

Possible challenges facing Telecenters and Telecenter managers
Inadequate equipment and/or servicing/maintenance of the equipment
Electricity supply (non existent or erratic)
Accessibility – if remotely located
Trained people may not stay long: Resigning or transfer
Continuous flow of funds may not be guaranteed
Language barrier; between managers and users, or if local population (the would – be users) are illiterate or do not understand English
Resistance to change – by local population
Politicising the Telecenter activities
Incompetence of Telecenter managers and staff e.g. financial management, public relation, lack community – mobilization skills and management of records.
Lack of competent local Resource Persons and Mentors
Insecurity and thuggery
Work load may be heavy/very light depending on the community response to the Telecenter Programmes
Irrelevant programmes from the headquarters (or abstract, “not – easy to use”) programmes/software.
Lack of modules/manuals on how to manage the Telecenters.
Inadequate training of Telecenter managers
Solutions to the challenges depend on the nature of the problem. Different stakeholders including the Telecenter manager can tackle appropriate challenges.
Telecenter managers need training on many aspects of Telecenter academy Such aspects include:-
ICT skills
Management of resources
equipment and infrastructure
Financial management
Personnel management
Community mobilization Adult learning psychology
Record keeping
Project writing and implementation.

Wish you a successful Telecenter Academy Curriculum Development!!
John S. Maani
Tel. 0772 – 693025


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Comment by Sandra Nassali on June 18, 2009 at 2:25pm
Thank you for the appreciation Niranjan..the idea of the log book is great as it provides accountability for the resources used by the learners. It can also be useful when accessing and evaluating the impact of the Academy.

At the meeting, it was agreed that the courses shouldn't be made very academic as most telecentre users and operators don't have that curriculum mind. This concurs with what you raised up in your comment.

Comment by Niranjan Meegammana on June 18, 2009 at 6:16am
Thanks Sandra Sharing this with those who were not present

This is a wonderful lecture. and wonderful writeup too
John S. Maani really teaches how practical carricullams to be made for telecenters;
We are going to adopt this method in E3 local programs to train Nenasala Operators.

I also like to add a comment,

1. As telecenter operators are working learners; it would be a good idea to introduce learners log book, in which they can maintain a journal of things they do as a part of work, this will make learner provide evidences of how she or he translate what they learn in their own environment;

2. Usually in academic exams there is a therotical answer. But in telecenter cases the answers of two operators may differ accordring to their experiences; Hence the carricullam need to facilitate for both to get a fair chance; Finally we want academically and professionally competent Telecenter Operators.

As my experience Telecenter Operators some times excel in two different contexts, It would be best if evalution to be aimed at producing unique skills extra to common knowledge to help the Networks with multiple skills.


Niranjan Meegammana

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