Economics Curriculum Implementation at the Senior Secondary Education Level

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Economics Curriculum Implementation at the Senior Secondary Education Level

Authored by Oleabhiele, Eric Oziegbe Ph.D.
Email: ivyese1414@gmail

Oko, Nnaemeka O.
Educational Management Department, Michael Okpara University of
Agriculture, Umudike Abia State Email: okonnaemeka@yahoo.com

Abstract

The teaching of Economics is more than ever before gathering a lot of attention among Economics educators. The quest to make meaningful impact on the lives of learners is a serious task before educators. A sustainable development can only take place in a nation if the citizens are well educated and empowered to apply the knowledge acquired through education in solving their problems rather than depending on the government. Economics as a field of study is capable of facilitating the economic and political progress of the people. This can only be achieve through effective implementation of Economics curriculum. Hence, this paper focused on Economics curriculum implementation at the senior secondary school level. Most of the works reviewed showed that the ability of the students of Economics to comprehend what is being taught and apply it to daily activities lies on how well the curriculum is implemented. The society is dynamic and as such the school curriculum tries to adjust. The paper therefore examined the concept of curriculum and curriculum implementation, and senior secondary school Economics curriculum. Also discussed in this paper are some emerging issues and factors that affect Economics curriculum implementation in secondary schools. The paper concludes that effective Economics curriculum implementation is the remedy for poor performance of Economics students in both internal and external examinations.

 

Introduction

Economics is one of the school subjects offered by students at the senior secondary level. It is designed to train students to understand the world around them and meaningfully contribute to the development and growth of the nation with the limited resources available. As a school subject, Economics has been variously defined by Scholars based on the type of economic structure prevalent at the time they lived. For instance, Smith in Oko (2014) sees Economics as an inquiry into the nature and cause of the wealth of nations. This definition is believed to have stemmed from the fact that Smith wrote during the industrial revolution in the continent of Europe when fortunes were being made from cotton, coal mines, iron works and pottery industries. It was as a result of the influence of the industrial revolution that Smith concluded that Economics was nothing, but the study of how nations make their wealth. Also, Mill in Onwukwe and Agwu (2002) saw Economics as a practical science of production and distribution of wealth. According to Mill, not only must man produce wealth but should also provide an appropriate means to ensure that what has been produced gets to the final consumer. Among these definitions, the one that is generally accepted by Economists is that of Lionel in Anyaele (2003) which affirmed that Economics as a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses. This definition emphasized that Economics is not just a social science but a science due the employment of scientific and logical approaches rather than mere decision making.

Economics is a powerful tool for enhancing economic growth and development of any country. The introduction of Economics into the Nigerian education system in 1966 brought so much hope and enthusiasm to both students, business organizations and the government. The general belief was that Economics would help to build a strong and dynamic economy for our nation Nigeria. This seems to have failed as the economy presently is battling with depression. This trend also raises some level of curiosity, if not anxiety, about the nature of Economics curriculum, its implementation and importance in national development. To address this curiosity, a look at the meaning of curriculum is necessary.

Curriculum simply mean a plan or blue print that guides an academic programme with the aim of bringing about positive change in the behaviour of the learners. It stands for all the subjects which learners are expected to undergo within a specified period of time. Similarly, Offorma (2006), asserted that the school  curriculum can be taken to mean the instrument by which schools seek to translate the hopes of the society in which they function into concrete reality. Also, Ivowi (2008) defined curriculum as a tool for translating societal values from generation to generation. This description of the curriculum by Ivowi is quite comprehensive and encompasses the organized knowledge presentable to learners in a school setting, every element in the learning environment, the subject matter to be learned, how to learn it, the learners and the teachers.

Curriculum is a working document and also a document for instructional guide used for teaching and learning to bring about concrete and desirable and attitudinal changes in the in the learners. In line with the above, Oko (2014) opined that curriculum is a conscious effort made by the school to change the behaviour of members of the society in which it situates.

Curriculum can be planned, implemented, achieved or hidden (Afangideh, 2009). It is planned when it is based on the choices made by experts at different levels

 

 

concerning what value is to be inculcated, how it should be taught and for whom it should be taught. It is implemented when it finds its way into the classroom and results in interaction between the teachers, the learners and the learning contents. Achieved curriculum on the other hand, refers to the aspect of the curriculum that have been attained. Hence, it is also known as attained curriculum. Hidden curriculum represents the aspects of schooling (the planned instructional programme of the school) which focuses on producing positive changes in students’ behaviour and values through the socialization function of the school system (Afangideh, 2009).Specifically, all the three aspects of the curriculum should be advocated in the school system if the desired objectives are to be achieved. Moreover, curriculum suggests how the topics should be taught, what teaching and learning materials to use, the performance objectives to be achieved, the learning activities to be engaged in, duration and the type of evaluation method to be employed. These represent the planned Economics curriculum which is expected to be executed at the senior secondary school level of education and its implementation determines the performance of students in both internal and external examinations.

 

Curriculum Implementation

The term implementation can be said to mean execution of plan. It is the actual use of a programme to fulfill the expectations of the designers. Curriculum implementation refers to putting into practice the officially prescribed syllabi. It is the practical stage in the curriculum process. Afangideh (2009) described curriculum implementation as the actual engagement of individual with planned learning opportunities. According to him, it is at this stage at the process of learning activities, teachers and learners are engaged in learning activities aimed at promoting teaching/learning. Curriculum implementation involved the arrangement of the preplanned curriculum through the assessment of the facilities, resources and environment to ensure that the planned curriculum will be implemented. It is also the execution of the planned curriculum in the classroom through the efforts of the teacher and the learners (Offorma, 2009).

Central to curriculum implementation is the role of the teacher. Afangideh (2009) noted that the learning is guided by the teacher ability to select appropriate teaching methods and resources. The learners on their own are actively involved in the process of interaction with learning activities. Since curriculum implementation takes place in the classroom, the teacher in order to put into action his/her plan states its instructional objective, as well define the scope of the content, identify the relevant resources to be employed and as well as determine the evaluation procedures that would enhance the execution of his/her plans. This means that it is the teacher who determines what actually is to be learned and largely controls the classroom interaction processes. The teacher plans instruction for the students on daily basis as well as over a

 

 

long period of time. He uses a variety of teaching methods and strategies to deliver the goods needed by the learners (Agwu, 2005). A curriculum no matter how well designed must be properly implemented if the desired objectives are to be achieved.

It has been established in this study that Economics is a powerful tool for national growth and development. The teachers are the determinant of whether or not Economics can fulfill this purpose. As revealed by Ogunyemi (2009), there is an increasing belief that Nigerian primary and secondary school teachers are curriculum illiterates or deficient in relevant competences for curriculum participation, implementation and evaluation. Corroborating this, Ubanatu (2016) reported that teachers are hardly involved in curriculum projects. They are only remembered during implementation. Agreeing with this, Umeala (2015) observed that since Economics was introduced in the Nigerian education system, Economics teachers are yet to participate at the planning and development stages of Economics.. This perhaps may be responsible for the delay in achieving the goals and objectives of teaching Economics in secondary schools as the products (students) at this level of education are yet to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Ubanatu, 2016).

 

Senior Secondary School Economics Curriculum

Senior secondary school is a three year education programme that includes senior secondary one to three. By law, the administration, funding and control of senior secondary schools in Nigeria lie in the hand of the state governments. Senior secondary education follows the junior secondary school phase. It includes conventional senior secondary school and technical secondary school. The Economics curriculum at this level of education is well structured with intended learning experiences to broaden students’ knowledge for national growth and development Ede, Olebahiele and Modebelu (2016). The structure of the new Economics curriculum (2008) is such that it includes emerging issues such as economic lessons from the Asian Tigers, human capital development, manufacturing and construction, and service industry among others, derived from the urgent need for value re-orientation and economic reform.

As a subject under the new National Policy on Education (2009), Economics is considered as one of the elective subjects offered at the senior secondary school level (Umeala, 2015).       Again, Ede, Oleabhiele and Modebelu (2016) posited that what    is significant about the new National Policy on Education is not just the structure but the content of education particularly that of Economics. They maintained that the structure of the new Economics curriculum is such that with knowledge and competence, the products of secondary schools will be self-reliant so that even when they are unable to secure paid employment at the end of their schooling, they can be gainfully employed as a result of the skills and the knowledge they had received in secondary school.

 

 

Furthermore, for effective teaching and learning of Economics, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) (2008) outlined the following as the objectives of teaching Economics at the senior secondary school.

  • Understand basic economic principles and concepts as well as the tools for sound economic
  • Develop the skills and also appreciate the basis for rational economic decisions
  • Contribute intelligently to discourse on economic reforms and development as they affect or would affect the generality of Nigerians
  • Appreciate the role of public policies on national economy
  • Understand the structure and functioning of economic institutions
  • Become sensitized to participate actively in national economic advancement through entrepreneurship, capital market and so
  • Appreciate the problems encountered by developing countries in their efforts towards economic advancement
  • Understand the role and status of Nigerian and other African countries in international economic relationship (p. ii).

A look at these objectives shows that the Economics curriculum for senior secondary schools is quite rich but the challenge of underdevelopment and poor economic growth still persist in our nation. Presently, the Nigerian economy is facing serious depression and one wonders if the objectives of teaching Economics are being defeated. Nwafor (2003) lamented that there have been a great decline in students’ performance in all public examinations and the nation’s economy has been suffering from bank distress, inflation, unemployment and many are beginning to question the importance of Economics as a discipline in nation building. In the same vein, Olusola (2014) in a study carried out on the role of teachers in Economics curriculum implementation revealed that despite the good intentions of both government and teachers, one still doubts the extent to which the objectives of Economics particularly at the senior secondary school level have been achieved. Olusola further argued that the inability of the country to solve its economic problems after many years of producing graduates of Economics was a clear indication that Economics was yet to be given its proper place in the nation’s education system.

Akinsolu (2010) carried out a study on teachers and students’ academic performance in Economics in Nigerian secondary schools and its implications for planning found out that teachers’ qualifications, experience and teacher-student ratio were positively and significantly related to students’ academic performance. Also, Davies (2013) discovered in a study on teacher competency in the implementation of Economics curriculum that some teachers found it difficult teaching most of the new topics introduced in the new Economics curriculum as they are not experts in the fields where the topics were drawn. The author further reported that most students could not

 

 

comprehend properly the new topics as they comprised of science or engineering related subjects. These new topics are discussed below.

Emerging Issues in Secondary School Economics Curriculum

In secondary school Economics curriculum, one of the recent issues that have emerged is that of economic lessons from the Asian Tigers. The highly developed economies of Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are known as the Asian Tigers. The term started to be commonly used in the 1970s. These countries are grouped in this way since the 1970s because they all employed a similar path to attain development (Ogwumike, Ekpeyong, Olofin & Alo, 2011).

As a means of reawakening in the minds of her citizens the consciousness that Nigeria has failed to take her rightful place in the global economy, Federal Government has decided to try the possibility of adopting development strategies employed by Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, popularly known as the Asian Tigers. Hence, the introduction of Economic Lessons from the Asian Tigers. The government believes that through a systematic and rigorous education, Nigeria can develop its human resources and exploit same to build an enviable nation. This can only be achieved through effective implementation of the school curriculum because the curriculum is the means by which the Government transmits its hope to her citizens. Another issue that was recently introduced in the senior secondary school Economics curriculum is vision 20:20. Vision 2020 aims at launching Nigeria towards the direction of sustained social and economic prosperity which will help to accelerate the emergence of a truly prosperous and self-reliance Nation. Therefore, students in this regard are to be taught to recognize the huge human and natural endowments of Nigeria and how they can be used to improve the welfare of the citizens and place the nation among the Top 20 economies of the world. Also, included in the curriculum is economic development challenges. This topic (economic development challenges) is meant to discuss the issues of poverty, methods of poverty alleviation and eradication, agencies for poverty alleviation such as National Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Programme (NAPEP) and National Directorate for Employment (NDE). Others include HIV/AIDS, corruption and the economy, the role of Economic and Financial Crimes

Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices (ICPC) in the economy.

As noted earlier, the society is dynamic and as these issues emerged, the government through the education system tries to accommodate them in the school curriculum to enhance its awareness. Unfortunately for Economics teachers in secondary schools, these new issues lack the appropriate textbooks that treated them in details. Also, external examination bodies are yet to recognize them as they are developed within the purview of Nigerian economic goals and challenges (Oko, 2014).

 

Factors that Affect Economics Curriculum Implementation in Secondary Schools

Curriculum implementation has been identified to be a way of achieving the stated objectives of Economics as a school subject. It is however obvious that effective

implementation of this curriculum can be affected by certain factors. Some of these factors are discussed below.

1.   Dearth of Qualified Economics Teachers

Successful implementation of Economics curriculum to a large extent relate to the number of qualified teachers. A teacher in this regard, is one who is professionally trained and certified to carry out teaching activities with the intention of causing them to learn (Umeala, 2015). Similarly, Oleabhiele (2008), Oko (2014) and Ikwumelu and Oko (2015) reported that it is no longer new that there is shortage of competent and qualified teachers to teach Economics in secondary schools in Nigeria. This can be attributed to the fact that most graduates no longer show interest in teaching due to societal value for the profession. Also, those who are already in the profession often leave to seek for higher paid jobs especially graduates of economics education, who can fit into other professions (Olusola, 2014).

2.   Curriculum Overload

Over the years, Economics curriculum has experienced a geometrical increase in its contents of study. This is so because the curriculum is often reviewed to reflect changes in the society. As noted by Davies (2013), quite a lot of issues have emerged in the Nigerian economy. Prominent among them are corruption, the role of EFCC and ICPC in the economy, MDGs, NEEDS, Vision 20:20, poverty alleviation and eradication, HIV/AIDS and power and energy inadequacy (Ogwumike, et.al). These have been introduced as contents to be learnt by the students in addition to previous contents. Umena (2003) pointed out that it is worthy to note that in senior secondary school one and two, the students are expected to offer minimum of sixteen (16) and nine subjects and register nine (9) subjects in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. All these pose as a threat to effective curriculum implementation.

3.   Inadequate Instructional Aids

Another factor that affects Economics curriculum implementation in secondary school is inadequate instructional aids. Instructional aids or materials are generally seen as veritable instruments that help the teacher to effectively communicate the content of lesson to the students. Teaching without instructional materials makes the job of the teacher more tedious and mechanical. One of the causes of non-availability of instructional materials is lack of fund. Agwu (2005) submitted that there are various teaching aids that can be produced locally by the teacher for effective teaching and learning but since the school or government cannot finance the cost of production, he cannot produce them. The excitement usually generated among the students by the introduction of instructional materials prepares their minds for the lesson. Instructional materials make learning more permanent and provide a concrete basis for conceptual thinking and reduce meaningless word responses of students. Unfortunately, these all important materials are not adequate especially in the implementation of economics curriculum contents

 

 

4.   Examination Malpractice

Another big challenge facing implementation of Economics curriculum is examination malpractice. According to Ivowi (2005), a number of students have continued to engaged in this notorious act, and because of poor implementation of curriculum in school, arising from so many factors; the battle against examination malpractice is far from being over. Virtually everybody in the education sector seems to be involved in one way or the other. Agreeing with this, Omojunwa, (2010) affirmed that parents during external examination registration often prefer taking their children and/or wards to schools (special or miracle centre as it may be called) where examination  malpractice is aided and abetted. Such acts will no doubt make students lazy and prevent them from attending classes and or studying their books.

Teachers are also not left out of the game. Ocho (2005) confirmed that: To educate others, the teacher must himself be educated. Many of the people we call teachers in Nigeria today are not educated even though they teach in nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Many of them are not only deficient in character but also in learning thus those students who learn from such teachers suffer double jeopardy. A teacher becomes a cheater or a fraudster once he deviates from teaching what is right in the matter of conduct and learning. Teachers now routinely encourage students to cheat in examinations, to tell lies as a matter of principle, to commit fornication and adultery as a survival methodology and to exploit society for selfish ends (p.24).

 

This observation put forward by Ocho clearly explains some of the major challenges faced by the education sector.

5.   Increase in School Enrolment

Economics as a school subject has continued to attract more students over the years. However, school enrolment expanded without a corresponding increase in the number of teachers and facilities (Ocho, 2005). For effective teaching and learning, it is believed that a small number is better because the teacher can control and impart meaningful knowledge through the use of teaching aids. For effective hearing and viewing in the classroom, the smaller the number of students the more effective, they hear and see. However, it is observed that instead of 35 to 40 class size, the reverse in the case which makes it difficult for the teacher to control and teach effectively (Agwu, 2005).

6.   Mathematical Phobia

Another problems area is the phobia of mathematics. Mathematics is a subject which students easily have phobia for. The presence of some elements of mathematics and statistics in Economics scares some teachers and students. While some teachers try to avoid teaching the mathematical or statistical components of Economics, students try to pay less attention when lessons in those topics are taught. The avoidance of such

 

 

lessons make students have inadequate knowledge required of them to tackle problems in such areas during examinations. They also remain ill-equipped to effectively teach them if they become teachers (Ede, Oleabhiele & Modebelu, 20016). All these factors affect effective curriculum implementation in economics..

 

Conclusion

This article discussed the concepts of Economics curriculum implementation at the senior secondary education level. The benefits derived from Economics as a school subject cannot be quantified. Its curriculum at this level of education is very rich in terms of equipping the learners with the necessary knowledge, kills, attitudes and the right frame of mind. These can only be achieved through effective implementation of the curriculum at the classroom level. Teachers have been identified to be the key to Economics curriculum implementation. Also, effort has been made to examine the factors that affect Economics curriculum implementation in senior secondary schools. Thus, effective Economics curriculum implementation is the remedy for poor performance of Economics students in both internal and external examinations.

 

Recommendations

  1. Government should as a matter of urgency, employ competent and qualified teachers to teach Economics in secondary schools since this is the foundation level of Economics as a school
  2. There is also need for workshops and seminars to be organized for Economics teachers on the best method of implementing the contemporary and current issues introduced in the Economics

 

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