Friday , March 31 2023

Workshops about new curriculum Comprehensive School

Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) held a two-day series of workshops Thursday and Friday, with all teachers and administrative staff developing the new curriculum, reports The Daily Herald. The new curriculum proposal already is a thick, detailed document, a palpable outcome of the search for a clear vision on education on Saba. After the local government temporarily took over administration of SCS in April 2012, Commissioner of Education Chris Johnson, current Principal Hemmie van Xanten and Education Ministry Representative Reynolds “Nolly” Oleana established an Educational Task Force (ETF). They appointed a new board for the Saba Educational Foundation and installed Van Xanten as new principal with the stated purpose of setting clear goals and shielding local education from policy shifts. The agenda, as stated by Commissioner Johnson at the time, was to work with the Ministry of Education in giving SCS “a real identity” with a “solid foundation,” which included “a standard rule book, codes of conduct, set curriculum mapping, a school handbook and curriculum strengthening.” The process of drafting a curriculum, which started this year, is facilitated by Jan Berkvens from the Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development SLO. It is SLO’s role to advise the Ministry of Education on curricular issues. Their consultancy bridges the policy, research and grassroots teaching practice challenges with comparative solutions from various countries. With its predominantly English-speaking population, Saba had to face the challenge of adapting its English-based education system with the qualitative educational requirements of the Netherlands. Flexibility by the Education Ministry went hand in hand with the local determination to produce a compliant Saba-specific curriculum. “Holland nourishes freedom of education,” said Berkvens in an interview “and the decision-making stays greatly at the local level of school councils, so we cannot prescribe a lot.” SLO prescribes 58 core objectives and examination goals that shape the requirements guiding education in the Netherlands. “I find it most important that this is not ‘my product’ or SLO’s, but a product of the school, developed by the teachers of the school,” said Berkvens. “I wasn’t really the one writing down this new teaching plan, but the teachers did that and I supported them in their process. I provided the structure that we agreed on.” He explained that once teachers had made their decisions on teaching plans, they submitted them to him and he asked critical questions to guide the process and made suggestions. “A curriculum is a living thing” said Berkvens, adjustments are to be made when needed, but the structure and the first complete issue of the document is to be finalized by the end of the year. Educationalist Berkvens worked in a variety of countries and cultures. His work involves bridging the teaching styles of teachers from the Caribbean and from the Netherlands. Berkvens provided insight about the curriculum choices made by various countries and made a cross-analysis of what solutions may be suitable for Saba as part of the Netherlands.

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