In formal education, a curriculum is the planned interaction of pupils with instructional content, materials, resources, and processes for evaluating the attainment of educational objectives. This process includes the use of literacies and datagogies that are interwoven through the use of digital media and/or texts that address the complexities of learning.
Other definitions combine various elements to describe curriculum as follows:
• All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school. (John Kerr)
• Outlines the skills, performances, attitudes, and values pupils are expected to learn from schooling. It includes statements of desired pupil outcomes, descriptions of materials, and the planned sequence that will be used to help pupils attain the outcomes.
• The total learning experience provided by a school. It includes the content of courses (the syllabus), the methods employed (strategies), and other aspects, like norms and values, which relate to the way the school is organized.
• The aggregate of courses of study given in a learning environment. The courses are arranged in a sequence to make learning a subject easier. In schools, a curriculum spans several grades.
• Curriculum can refer to the entire program provided by a classroom, school, district, state, or country. A classroom is assigned sections of the curriculum as defined by the school.
As an idea, curriculum came from the Latin word which means a race or the course of a race (which in turn derives from the verb “currere” meaning to run/to proceed). As early as the seventeenth century, the University of Glasgow referred to its “course” of study as a curriculum, and by the nineteenth century European universities routinely referred to their curriculum to describe both the complete course of study (as for a degree in Surgery) and particular courses and their content. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the related term curriculum vitae (“course of one’s life”) became a common expression to refer to a brief account of the course of one’s life.
Curriculum content is prescriptive, and is based on a more general syllabus which merely specifies what topics must be understood and to what level to achieve a particular grade or standard. Curriculum content has numerous definitions, which can be slightly confusing. In its broadest sense a curriculum may refer to all courses offered at a school. This is particularly true of schools at the university level, where the diversity of a curriculum might be an attractive point to a potential student.
A curriculum may also refer to a defined and prescribed course of studies, which students must fulfill in order to pass a certain level of education. For example, an elementary school might discuss how its curriculum, or its entire sum of lessons and teachings, is designed to improve national testing scores or help students learn the basics. An individual teacher might also refer to his or her curriculum, meaning all the subjects that will be taught during a school year.
On the other hand, a high school might refer to a curriculum as the courses required in order to receive one’s diploma. They might also refer to curriculum in exactly the same way as the elementary school, and use curriculum to mean both individual courses needed to pass, and the overall offering of courses, which help prepare a student for life after high school.
The fundamental beliefs and principles underlying a curriculum are very important. Traditionally high school prepared students for college. Those students who did not intend to go to college often dropped out of high school. During the middle of the 20th century it was believed that high school was valuable for all students so the high schools began tracking students. Some took more rigorous classes to prepare for college while others took a general track. Later high schools added courses to prepare for vocations that did not require college. Now high school is desired for all students. In Nigeria, educational policy at independence was most concerned with using schools to develop manpower for economic development and Africanisation of the civil service (Woolman, 2001). The legacies of colonialism underline the many problems of nation building facing the Federal Republic of Nigeria since independence in 1960. This has led to a shaky democratic foundation which resulted in the first military coup in 1966 and three counter coups during the period in focus. Further, the educational policy was narrow in scope and did not meet the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians.
The 1977 National Policy on Education was geared towards addressing the problems of educational relevance to the needs and aspirations of Nigerians as well as promoting Nigeria’s unity and laying the foundation for national integration. Thus the nation’s curriculum content was reviewed and made to blend with the policy of the military government as of then. Also, due to the high level of underdevelopment, the policy aimed at realizing a self-reliant and self-sufficient nation to meet the country’s developmental needs. In order to achieve the objectives, the policy made education in Nigeria the Federal Government’s responsibility in terms of centralized control and funding of education. Such centralization was a departure from the colonial education policy of financing of education based on cost sharing between the proprietary bodies, local community, parents/guardians and the government (Ibadin, 2004). Taiwo (1980, p. 194) has made reference to the ambitious nature of the National Policy on Education which was conceived during a period when Nigeria’s national economy was at its zenith, but born in a period of economic decline. The policy introduced the 6-3-3-4 educational system modelled after the American system of 6 years of primary education, 3 years of junior secondary school, 3 years of senior secondary school, and 4 years of university education (Nwagwu, 2007).

Thus curriculum can be viewed as a field of study. It is made up of its foundations (philosophical, historical, psychological, and social foundations); domains of knowledge as well as its research theories and principles. Curriculum is taken as scholarly and theoretical. It is concerned with broad historical, philosophical and social issues and academics. The relationship between education and national development in terms of the wealth and poverty of the nation depends largely on the content of the curriculum and is a matter of critical interest to present and past governments of the country. Similarly, Constitutional reviews in the country and in recognition of the fact that educational policy is dynamic, have led the Federal Government of Nigeria to revise the National Policy on Education from 1977, resulting in four editions to date. In synopsis, the National Policy on Education is dynamic and subject to amendments so as to make it relevant and effective in addressing societal problems and meeting the needs of the pluralistic Nigerian society. In addition, in order to minimize conflict, it is good that people are adequately involved in the policy process and cognizance must be taken in education policy reviews of all the good parts of educational policies,

1. Oxford English Dictionary, “Curriculum,” 152
2. Bilbao, Purita P., Lucido, Paz I., Iringan, Tomasa C., and Javier, Rodrigo B. (2008). Curriculum Development. Quezon City: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.
3. Bobbitt, John Franklin. The Curriculum. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918.
4. Jackson, Philip W. “Conceptions of Curriculum and Curriculum Specialists.” In Handbook of Research on Curriculum: A Project of the American Educational Research Association, edited by Philip W. Jackson, 3-40. New York: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1992.
5. Pinar, William F., William M. Reynolds, Patrick Slattery, and Peter M. Taubman. Understanding Curriculum: An Introduction to the Study of Historical and Contemporary Curriculum Discourses. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.
6. National Education Standards…They’re Back! (article)
7. Diane Ravitch, National Standards in American Education A Citizen’s Guide (book)
8. Kelly, A.V. (2009). The Curriculum: theory and practice (6th ed.).
9. “Harvard Gazette: Discussing the Core Curriculum”. Harvard University. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
10. “Harvard approves new general education curriculum”. The Boston Globe. 15 May 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
11. “Home Page”. National Association of Scholars. Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
12. “Examples in Action: Our List of Open Curriculum Colleges & Universities”. Open Jar Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
13. “General Education Expectations, Registrar”. Weslayan University. Retrieved 7 February 2014.

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