School Curriculum Mapping Report. Mapping curriculum frameworks and practices in Africa: creating baseline evidence (2022)

The comprehensive report of the School Curriculum Mapping Survey provides a contribution to CESA Curriculum Cluster, and builds on data and information collected via a continental survey, interviews with key informants and documentary research. The African Curriculum Association is the main initiator of the study, carried out in collaboration with the ACQF project. Research team: JET Education Services.




Findings of the School Curriculum Mapping Survey: Key Points

The survey covered school education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Some aspects of early childhood care development and education (ECCDE) were also taken into account.

Mapping study findings

  1. Curriculum policy and governance: across all three sectors, the predominant legal basis of the curriculum was a national policy; the vast majority of curricula, was approved in the last decade; the majority of respondents reported that experts are consistently involved in national curriculum development processes.
  2. Curriculum and qualifications frameworks: 67% of respondents reported that there is regular and close cooperation between curriculum authorities and national qualifications or quality assurance agencies; 17% of respondents indicated that there was awareness, but no substantial relationship, between curriculum authorities and other agencies.
  3. Curriculum approaches: the main approach used by countries for curriculum formulation is a competency-based approach; 75% reported that vertical progression is conceptualised by using taxonomies; the majority of respondents indicated that TVET programmes are structured as pre-vocational programmes with no apprenticeship.
  4. Curriculum monitoring and evaluation: quality assurance of curriculum delivery did not appear to be the exclusive domain of any one particular entity, with responses fairly evenly distributed across the organisations, departments and entities listed.
  5. Curriculum and assessment: quarterly assessments were the most commonly reported national systemic assessments across all three education sub-sectors, followed by annual assessments; 37% reported participating in PASEC, 37% in SACMEQ; 56% of countries reported attempted improvements against regional and international standards in the TVET sector.
  6. Curriculum reform: Six countries reported that they are moving towards the adoption of a competency-based approach to the curriculum, while one country reported a shift from an objectives-based curriculum to a standards-based curriculum. Three countries reported promoting 21st century skills as well as digital literacy in their curriculums.
  7. Curriculum innovation: the top three themes were norms, values and culture (94%); education for wider universal values supporting mobility (87.5%); and harmonisation (62.5%); the top 21st century skills were creativity (94%), critical thinking (87.5%), and active learning (87.5%), and digital skills (81%).
  8. Financing curriculum: innovation: curriculum innovation in the schooling sector is almost exclusively supported by public funds, except in one country where the financing of school level curriculum innovation is left to the private sector.
  9. Impact of Covid-19 on curriculum delivery: the greatest impact was a reduction in curriculum coverage, reported by 68.7% of countries; for 50% of countries, the curriculum was re-focussed to cover core subjects, including basic numeracy and literacy; 50% of countries reported that Covid-19 has resulted in a review of the curriculum; 5% reported that the predominant method for curriculum recovery was using online systems; 75% of countries reported using extra teaching time to catch-up; 68.7% of countries reported a reduction of holiday periods to ensure catch up of the curriculum.
  10. Qualified and competent teachers: the overwhelming majority of respondents were not familiar with ISCED; the majority of respondents for all sectors indicated a 2-year qualification duration; the average duration of teacher practice during teacher training programmes is between 3-6, or 12-16 weeks; 14 schooling sector respondents said that teacher professionalisation is guided by professional standards to a comprehensive extent, while another six said that there was partial existence of professional standards guiding professionalisation.
  11. Curriculum and African Union policy instruments: the highest number of respondents were not aware of any of the three AU policies or instruments, while the fewest number of respondents indicated that the policies were comprehensively taken into account in related national policy.

Looking to the future

  1. The following trends have been observed through the mapping study:
    1. An increase in learning outcomes-based approaches across African countries
    2. Gender equity, global citizenship and digitalisation are megatrends
    3. Emergence of teacher professional standards
    4. The promise of a continental systemic assessment regime
    5. Harmonisation of teacher qualifications
    6. Access to digital platforms
  2. The following challenges related to curriculum design and delivery have been observed through the mapping study:
  3. Unequal access to technology and the internet
  4. Underutilised African Union policy instruments
  5. Underdeveloped TVET
  6. Lack of data
  7. This curriculum mapping survey conducted in 2021 has provided a first-of-its-kind overview of the state of play of curriculum developments in schooling and TVET, and to some extent also ECCDE, across the African continent.
  8. This study is however only a starting point for more sophisticated studies that should follow as part of the implementation of CESA and Agenda 2063.
  9. The Covid-19 pandemic has starkly illustrated both the continent’s vulnerability and its resilience. While at the same time, it is estimated that by 2100, Africa will account for 80% of the projected 4 billion increase in the global population (IMF 2014). Africa is well positioned to harness its youthful population in this future.
  10. Relevant and modern curricula will be the cornerstone of the continent’s recovery in the coming decades, but also its future. Such generative curricula need to be as much embedded in global trends, as they are uniquely attuned to the rights of and cultural identity of African learners (Nsamenang and Tchombe, 2011).