Science subjects reform to be completed by 2017

Education: The science curriculum reform for classes IV to XII will be completed by next year, according to Royal Education Council  (REC).

“The science curriculum reform cycle will be concluded with the implementation of three science subjects for classes X and XII in 2017,”  REC Curricullum  Development Centre curriculum specialist Wangpo Tenzin said.

REC has been reforming science subjects for classes IV to XII. “The development of science textbooks and manuals for classes IV, IX and XI were completed and implemented from 2013 academic session,” a REC circular on education ministry’s website stated.

The reformed science textbooks such as physics, chemistry and biology for classes X and XII will be introduced from 2017. “Physics, chemistry and biology practical work manuals for classes XI and XII would also be introduced from next academic session.”

Dzongkhags and thromdes have been notified to proceed with necessary arrangements to procure the new science textbooks for the 2017 academic session.

The dzongkhags will, however, start the procurement works only after receiving the list of the reformed science subjects from the centre.

Bumthang’s education officer, Karma Chophel, said: “Upon the receipt of the list we will compile the requirement based on the number of students in respective dzongkhags.”

As of general science for classes IV and VI, was implemented from 2013 after the reform. Integrated science for classes VII and VIII was implemented in 2014 and 2015. Science curriculum with distinct branches such as physics, chemistry and biology for classes IX and XI were developed and implemented in 2016. Science subjects for PP to III however will be taught as an integral part of environmental science in Dzongkha.

“A five-day orientation workshop was conducted for over 730 primary Science teachers in 10 locations with financial assistance from UNICEF,” Wangpo Tenzin said. “In 2014, about 350 lower secondary science teachers were also oriented on the teaching of the reformed science subjects.”

REC said that reform was done following increasing pressure pertaining to quality, content and relevance and changing educational needs. Thus, a study on the needs assessment of science education was conducted in 2007 and 2008 by two consultants from the University of Oxford, UK, with support from UNESCO.

Based on the study’s recommendations the science subjects were reformed. It was found that curriculum from PP to XII lacked proper progression. The study also found that integrated science for classes VII and VIII  was biology-oriented, while the curriculum at secondary level was content laden. Teachers also needed professional capacity-building opportunities.

“Participation rate at class XII in science education in Bhutan was also found less compared to some Asian countries,” Wangpo Tenzin said. “Time allocated was also less.”

Learning science through “learning by doing” ideology dominated the former curriculum according to REC. The 21st century education concept, however, espouses learning from hands-on experience to more cognitive career-based education, life skills and information technology.

This change necessitated an overhaul of the school science curriculum from classes IV to XII.

Unlike the former curriculum, the reformed science curriculum offers a variety of cognitive and physical challenges to children. “Therefore, learning activities attempt to provide avenues to engage learners in field trips, library research, project work, maintaining journal to record their daily observations in the locality,” Wangpo Tenzin said.

“The new textbooks contain weblinks to text materials and software for scientific drawing and simulations to facilitate science teachers and students to integrate ICT in the teaching and learning.” REC will also introduce system for teachers to use toll-free services to seek professional support.

REC said that the books are designated to conceptual strands of life processes, materials and their properties and physical processes.

“The strand, life process provides content knowledge on biological world (biology),” Wangpo Tenzin said. “The material properties and physical process provide in-depth understanding and knowledge on the chemical properties of materials (chemistry). Its force, work, energy and changes in the universe will furnish knowledge in physics.”

Wangpo Tenzin said that learning outcome would be measured at five key stages- from classes PP to III, IV to VI, VII to VIII, IX to X and XI to XII. The practical works of class X are integrated in the form of activities.

For class XII, a single project work will be a mini research spanning two years starting from class XI, culminating to 10 marks in Bhutan Higher Secondary Education Certificate.

Tempa Wangdi

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    So it starts as ‘general sciences’ from class IV to class VI and then, we move towards integrated science for the classes VII and VIII. The curriculum of classes IX and XI offers distinct branches where students get to learn physics, chemistry and biology specifically within the scope of integrated science. But in classes X and XII, the students get the best possible opportunity to learn physics, chemistry and biology as separate subjects.

    This indeed feels like a change that can eventually change the way students learn science subjects at school. This is also when we hope that the text books and manuals can even promote application of knowledge in different fields of science. Practical works for class X students to be developed as a process of integrated activities and that of classes XI and XII as a research based project work is bound to make our students scientifically enabled and probably even mathematically capable in the fields of applied sciences.

    If this much is going to be changed for the curriculum of science subjects at school education level from PP to class XII, we probably also want to see introduction of integrated subjects like ‘Applied Arts’ in its general form in classes IX and X when an advanced form can be introduced for Arts stream in classes XI and XII. Similarly, an integrated general subject of ‘Applied Economics and Commerce’ may even be introduced for classes IX and X. An advanced form of the same subject should also be made compulsory for all the streams in classes XI and XII. And this, at least in my opinion, is highly important in making our school education a lot more complete and total.

    What I like most of the proposed changes in the school curriculum is that the science subjects from PP to classes III will be taught as part of environmental science in Dzongkha. This can even give many a chance to learn to perfect the mother tongue through the subjects of science relating to the environment as purely a scientific procedure. Probably we can expect our children to learn English through art and poetry before they take up General Science in English from class IV onwards. And Pre-Primary to 3rd grade is the age group of IV to IX in a child’s learning cycles in a life long education process.

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