The Basic Education Programme is designed to provide opportunities for children to acquire education which will help them to function effectively in the society. No wonder, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2014:14) lays emphasis on a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking as well as providing the child with basic tools for further educational advancement, including preparation for trades and crafts of the locality. In Nigeria, Basic Education is managed by the State Ministry of Education, State Basic Education Board and the Local Government Education Authority, with the Federal Ministry of Education providing policy guidance while the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission provides leadership through broad policy guidelines and provision of regulatory framework.
The Universal Basic Education policy, seeks to make basic education universal, free and compulsory, by the introduction of the first years of schooling, six years of primary and three years of junior secondary education. The basic education curriculum reflects on the appropriateness and inter-relatedness of the curricular contents, especially the entrepreneurial skills which were added into the relevant contents of the curriculum. According to Onyene (2016), the UBE is another educational policy implemented by the Federal Government of Nigeria with a view to improving the nation’s economy, so that the economy can compete favourable with the economies of other nations of the world. The relevance of basic education curriculum in community development is based on the fact that, education gives direction on how people can identify their needs, gain knowledge and skills to develop themselves and the society at large.
It is believed that, through education people can have access to better life, higher standard of living as well as individual and community progress. One prominent feature of the basic education curriculum is that it show-cases how skills and knowledge are acquired to enhance the living standard of the people. Furthermore, through basic education curricular contents the young ones in the communities are subjected to learning experiences, that lay emphasis on skill acquisition which are internalized, so that it becomes their way of life. This paper x-rays the basic education curriculum with reference to various reforms that have taken place so far. The role of basic education curriculum in community development and community partnership in the implementations of basic education were highlighted.
Concept of Curriculum
The term curriculum refers to all the activities or learning experiences in or outside the school to which the learner is exposed to, during the course of his schooling. The curriculum is the pivot through which the educational system inculcates in the learner, the knowledge, skills and attitudes prescribed by the society. Ugwu and Ibiam (2011) defines curriculum as the totality of the environment in which education takes place, that is the learner, the teacher, the content, the method, the physical and psychological environment. According to Robinson in Ezugwu (2011), curriculum generally includes all subjects and activities over which the school has control or for which it has responsibility.
Concept of Community Development
A community is a group of people living together within a defined geographical area and sharing a common destiny. Development on the other hand is the process whereby deliberate efforts are made to bring about desirable changes in the wellbeing of people living in a community. It involves those things that lead to enhanced access to food, clothing, housing, education and good health. When put together community development encompasses all intervention measures taken to empower people to be more productive thereby contributing to the flow of goods and services. Oguru (2008) asserts that community development entails economic growth and the citizens contributing to such a growth, provision of public infrastructure, and higher standard of living among others. The level of community development is dependent on the level of education of the people. Hence, education is the centre piece of community development.
Basic Education Curriculum
The main agency coordinating the implementation of basic education is the Universal Basic Education commission (UBEC) at the national level and the State Basic Education Commission (SUBEC) at the State level. Basic Education according to the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004:14) is the education given to children aged six (6) to eleven plus (11+) years. The objectives of basic education as stated in the National Policy on Education are of follows:
*An uninterrupted access to a nine-year formal education by providing free, compulsory basic education for every child of school age (6 – 15 years).
*A drastic reduction in incidences of school dropout and enhancement of relevance, quality and efficiency in the sub-system.
*The acquisition of literacy, numeracy, life skills and appropriate values for life-long education and useful living.
*The removal of distortions and inconsistencies in the delivery of basic education by reinforcing the implementation of the 6-3-3-4 system of education as provided in the National Policy on Education.
*And the enhancement of community participation in decision making process in schools with a view to engendering community interest as eventual ownership of basic education institutions.
A broad subject curriculum was designed to achieve the above objectives which include: English Studies, Mathematics, Basic Science, Basic Technology, Physical and Health Education, Religious Studies, Social Studies, Music, Creative Arts, Business Studies, Civic Education, Agricultural Science, Computer Education, French and Arabic. The Curriculum for the Junior Secondary Education covers the first three years of Secondary Education and is both pre-vocational and academic, consisting of basic subjects that are expected to prepare learners for Senior Secondary and empower them with some pre-vocational skill.
The Role of Basic Education Curriculum in Community Development
Community Development is viewed as a multi-dimensional process which involves major changes or transformation of a society, from traditional ways of thinking, to modern ways (Stiglitz in Ogedegbe, 2008). All over the world, countries that have attained advanced stage in various aspects of development started with curriculum reform. The Basic Education Curriculum has the potential to turn the fortunes of the citizens of this country around. Ajala (2008) posit that, the Basic Education Curriculum can prepare students for a changing and elusive job market, geared towards making useful contributions to the greater economic and security needs of our nation. The contents in the curriculum are expected to keep the students positively active, by turning every field of learning into practical activities. Oforma (2005) is of the view that, the curriculum was for wealth creation which is entrepreneurial curriculum skills development. The available content in the curriculum specifically has relevant professional life skills for the world of work and business enterprises. Mbachu (2011) asserts that, there is a radical paradigm shift from narrow specialization to a more broad based knowledge which ensures the capacity to engage with society on developmental needs using indigenous knowledge system.
Recognizing that, communities need support in a variety of interrelated areas, community development efforts should be built around a strong core of wealth creation strategies (Fawehinmi, 2008). The strategies such as enterprise development, access to capital and infrastructural development are anchored on the curriculum contents. No community can develop without the presence of physical facilities that help to make life more meaningful for the people as well as foster positive changes in people’s attitudes and perception.
According to Fawehinmi (2008:156), the Basic Education Curriculum could be channeled towards solving the needs of the community through the:
*examination of some aspects of the attitude or culture of the people that need re-orientation;
*inculcating value orientation and perceptions of the people, with regard to what they consider as their primary needs;
*developing geographical and other environmental conditions of the community;
*fostering personal security and political stability of the community ;
*identifying and improving the infrastructural needs of the community.
The Basic Education Curriculum provides for open apprenticeship schemes and middle level manpower programme, through which young people will acquire skills to develop themselves and their communities. The development of an individual translates to the development of the community hence, the acquisition of skills and knowledge by students will foster rapid transformation of the community.
Community Partnership in the Implementation of Basic Education
Basic Education is a veritable instrument for laying a solid foundation for community development. Asiyai (2008) infers that for effective management of UBE programme, communities should partner or collaborate with Federal, State and Local Governments in planning, designing, initiating and executing of specific projects. Under such partnership communities can invest by donating resources and capacity building such as buildings, scholarships, books, computers, internet facilities, sponsoring competitions and award of prizes to best performing teachers (Egboka, 2007). Community partnership is important in implementing basic education programme because a greater ideal of education reform, revolves around the collective input of all parties concerned.
Ejionueme (2007) pointed out, that a visible community participation is seen in many schools, where communities have built schools provided some facilities and instructional materials. Apart from the provision of infrastructures, the community can as well liaise with non-governmental organisations and oil companies operating in the area to assist the school carry out the repairs of school building or building new ones.
The Basic Education Curriculum, if vigorously implemented will prepare the students for a better life as well as community progress. The Basic Education Curriculum has all, it takes to transform any community, in as much as the students internalize the basic learning experiences. Hence, the development of an individual translates to the development of the community.
To ensure that, Basic Education enhances community development, the following recommendations were made:
• Stakeholders in the communities should be involved in Basic Education Curriculum review process.
• A more vigorous approach should be tailored towards knowledge economy where students could develop skills and knowledge to foster economic growth and development.
• Communities where schools are situated should form education committees to partner with school authorities to develop indigenous projects for the school.
• Communities should always assist schools to carry out their statutory duties aimed at achieving the educational objectives.
Dr. (Mrs) Helen Nzenyele, former Head Teacher, Community Primary School, Egbelu Ogbogoro.