Curriculum and Societal Needs: Stakeholders' Perceptions of the Solomon Islands' Secondary School Curriculum
Education is strongly linked to economic development, prosperity and social progress, yet recently, the Solomon Islands has experienced economic and social problems. This research used a questionnaire and interviews to gather perceptions from curriculum stakeholders (government and private sector education administrators, teachers, parents, students and business people) regarding the construction, content appropriateness and accessibility of the Solomon Islands’ national secondary curriculum. The data gathered is intended to provide constructive input into future curriculum development.
Data supported the retention of one national secondary curriculum, but highlighted the need for one that is flexible and that takes into account the opinions of all stakeholder groups. Secondly, the content of the secondary curriculum provides much useful knowledge, but some gaps need to be filled, particularly in the area of the cultural, historical, geographical and global contexts of the Solomon Islands. Thirdly, the heavy emphasis on knowledge largely disregards students’ moral, spiritual, physical, aesthetic and affective faculties. It has also resulted in the curriculum being implemented in a way that largely prevents students from learning many academic, practical and competency skills. This unbalanced approach to secondary education overlooks a need for values education and has produced a workforce with few skills and little ability to apply knowledge. Fourthly, while access to secondary education is being increased, data identified other accessibility issues that need attention. These include a lingering gender imbalance, poverty, and a lack of attention to the needs of slow learners. Additionally, a serious imbalance in the II rural-urban distribution of resources and of well-qualified teachers has helped create an educated urban elite in a previously egalitarian society.
Recommendations and suggestions for further research are made which, if acted upon, could result in the Solomon Islands’ secondary curriculum attending to societal needs and supporting economic and social progress much more effectively.