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In many countries around the world the curriculum is increasingly viewed as laying the foundation for comprehensive educational reforms aimed at achieving quality learning outcomes.  Contemporary curriculum development processes more frequently involve public discussion and consultation with a range of stakeholders, and the curriculum is progressively evolving into a topic of debate engaging policymakers, experts, practitioners, and society at large.

Curriculum terminology is no longer only used by specialists in this field who are aware of all the complexities involved, and this may generate confusion and misinterpretation. Many curriculum-related terms are frequently used interchangeably even if they refer to different concepts and, depending on the context, the same term may be understood in many different ways by various stakeholders. An example is the diversity of definitions for the term ‘curriculum’, a word that in many national languages does not even exist.

The main purpose of the UNESCO IBE Glossary of curriculum-related terminology is not to establish standard universally applicable definitions. Rather, it is intended to be a working reference tool that can be used in a range of activities and help to stimulate reflection among all those involved in curriculum development initiatives. Given the strong connection between concepts and practice, such a Glossary may contribute to productive reflection within national education systems, as well as regional and international contexts, on the role of curriculum terminology in promoting meaningful improvements.

The first draft of this Glossary was developed by Mr Massimo Amadio, Senior Programme Specialist, and Ms Ruth Creamer, Documentalist, with the assistance of Mr Hanspeter Geisseler, Assistant Programme Specialist, and Mr Konstantin Doulamis (Greece and Cyprus), Intern, at UNESCO IBE on the basis of (a) previous glossaries created for several IBE curriculum projects by Ms Dakmara Georgescu, Programme Specialist, and Mr Philip Stabback (Australia), IBE consultant, and (b) specialized terminology selected from a range of authoritative sources (see bibliography). The draft Glossary was then shared with several curriculum specialists and experts in the field of organizing information, who were invited to provide their feedback on the document. Comments and suggestions were received from:
  • Ms Imke Behr, Senior Assistant Librarian, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (Hamburg);
  • Ms Rosette Defise (Canada), Researcher, University of Quebec at Montreal (UNESCO Chair in Curriculum Development);
  • Ms Meron Ewketu, Library and Information Specialist, UNESCO Headquarters (Paris);
  • Ms Lani Florian (USA), Bell Chair of Education, University of Edinburgh;
  • Ms Christine Forlin (Hong Kong, China), Adjunct Professor, Hong Kong Institute of Education;
  • Ms Angela R. Katabaro (United Republic of Tanzania), Curriculum Specialist, Tanzanian Institute of Education;
  • Mr David Njeng’ere (Kenya), Senior Assistant Director, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development;
  • Ms Irene Psifidou (Greece), Vocational Education and Training Expert, European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP);
  • Ms Lynda Quamina-Aiyejina (Nigeria), Documentalist/Senior Librarian, Caribbean Educational Research Information Service (CERIS), School of Education, University of the West Indies;
  • Ms Lori Rabinovitch (Canada), Researcher, University of Quebec at Montreal (UNESCO Chair in Curriculum Development); and
  • Mr Philip Stabback (Australia), Curriculum Specialist, previously at the Curriculum Directorate, Department of Education and Training, New South Wales (Australia).

An updated version of the Glossary was then prepared taking into account the contributions received, and the second draft was made available online as a consultation document inviting other curriculum specialists and organizations to offer feedback. Additional comments and suggestions were provided by:
  • Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO);
  • Mr Gwang-Chol Chang, Senior Programme Specialist and Chief, Education Policy & Reform Unit, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok);
  • Ms Pauline Chia (Singapore), Curriculum Policy Specialist, Curriculum Policy Office, Ministry of Education, Singapore;
  • Ms Marlene Cruz Zegarra, Programme Specialist, Education Policy & Reform Unit, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok);
  • Ms Fumi Ginshima, Curriculum Director and Deputy Director, Curriculum Research Centre, National Institute for Educational Policy Research, Japan;
  • Ms Dewani Goloi (Malaysia), Senior Assistant Director, Educational Planning and Research Division, Ministry of Education of Malaysia;
  • Ms Caroline Kearney (United Kingdom), Education Analyst and Project Manager of the European Policy Network on Key Competences in School Education, European Schoolnet;
  • Mr Kerry John Kennedy (Australia), Research Chair Professor of Curriculum Studies and Director of the Centre for Governance and Citizenship, Hong Kong Institute of Education;
  • Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation–KICE, Republic of Korea (various researchers);
  • Ms Karen Lam (Singapore), Senior Curriculum Policy Officer, Curriculum Policy Office, Ministry of Education, Singapore;
  • Mr Phil Lambert PSM (Australia), General Manager Curriculum, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority;
  • Mr David Leat (United Kingdom), Professor of Curriculum Innovation, Newcastle University;
  • Mr George Lee (Singapore), Intern, Education Policy & Reform Unit, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok);
  • Mr Robert Munganda (Namibia), Senior Education Officer: Broad Curriculum and Curriculum Management, National Institute for Educational Development, Namibia;
  • Ms Eugenia Tan (Singapore), Deputy Director, Curriculum Policy Office, Ministry of Education, Singapore;
  • Ms Tan Po Chin (Singapore), Assistant Director, Curriculum Policy Office, Ministry of Education, Singapore;
  • Ms Ramya Vivekanandan Rodrigues, Programme Specialist, Education Policy & Reform Unit, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok);
  • Ms Stella Yu, Programme Officer, Education Policy & Reform Unit UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok).

The IBE is deeply indebted to all the colleagues listed above for their valuable input and recommendations.

Based on the feedback to the consultation document, a new version of the Glossary has been prepared. The final document has been further revised by a small editorial team comprising: Mr Massimo Amadio and Ms Ruth Creamer, UNESCO IBE; Ms Dakmara Georgescu, Programme Specialist, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States and Cluster Office (Beirut); Mr Jan Berkvens; Mr Alexandru Crisan (Romania), Lead Education Consultant, World Bank and Kuwait Government Partnership Programme for Education; and Mr Philip Stabback.

As pointed out by one contributor, “the glossary is very useful in helping curriculum developers and education stakeholders have a common understanding of terms that are often used in curriculum development, implementation and assessment but with varied meanings.” The IBE therefore hopes that the final outcome of this collaborative process involving many colleagues around the world will support curriculum specialists, practitioners and educationalists in their challenging task of enhancing the quality of learning and learning outcomes.

As a working reference tool, this Glossary is made available online in electronic format only and will continue to be revised based on feedback from curriculum specialists and interested parties including practitioners and other users, who are cordially invited to send their comments to UNESCO IBE.

Geneva, Switzerland, September 2013

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