Implementation of Decentralization of Primary School Curriculum Development in Ethiopia: The Cases of Addis Ababa, Gambella and Oromia Regions

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The main purpose of this study was to understand decentralization of primary school curriculum development in Ethiopia since 1993. It is therefore the basic concern of this study to uncover how Regions have developed their own primary school curricula as mandated by the policy (and the various proclamations).The study was undertaken in three regions selected based on maximum variations sampling. Qualitative multiple case study design was employed to undertake the study. Most of previous and current curriculum heads and experienced curriculum experts both at the centre and regions, textbook development coordinator at the centre, textbook writers, sub-city/woreda curriculum experts and primary school principals at each region were selected purposefully and some were selected by snow ball sampling to participate in the study. Furthermore, different educational documents and observation of physical settings of the regional curriculum department offices were used as sources of data for the study. To gather data semi-structured interview, document analysis and observation were used. The data collected through semi-structured interview were transcribed and analysed thematically based on the research questions. The findings of the study disclose that there was no conducive institutional arrangements and trained human power in the regions to carry out PSCD though there were necessary plans, materials resources and facilities in all the three sample regions‟ REBs. For instance, heads of the bureaus and curriculum department in all the studied areas were assigned based on their political affiliation. The recruitment criteria for regional curriculum experts are not based on job description of the experts and even these criteria were not followed in some of the regions (Gambella and Oromia). It is also revealed that there is no short and long term strategic planning to develop the regional curriculum experts‟ capacities with regard to curriculum development in all the sample regions. The study also confirmed that curriculum development processes such as need assessment, initiation of curriculum revision/change and syllabus design were mainly decided by MoE. The main roles and responsibilities of REBs were developing and publishing textbooks until 2009. Furthermore, the participation of local stakeholders in PSCD decision making is minimal and no mechanisms set forward by REBs‟ to communicate with local stakeholders while developing PSC. Based on the findings of the study, it can be concluded that though there was legislation to decentralize PSC to regions at rhetoric level, in practice decentralization of PSC was not implemented as expected. Hence, it is suggested that the structure of curriculum department both at MoE and REBs should be restructured to facilitate the implementation of PSCD decentralization policy. To this end, a semi autonomous institute of Curriculum Development and Research with a mandate to develop and research PSC has to be established at regional level with meritorious based recruitment of heads. The institution should be organized in such a way that it has capacity to develop, coordinate and monitor the PSCD process tasks through undertaking research. It should also have clearly set mechanisms to communicate with local stakeholders in developing PSC.