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Curriculum is a systematic and intended packaging of competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills and attitudes that are underpinned by values) that learners should acquire through organised learning experiences both in formal and non-formal settings (See: Different meanings of curricula). Good curriculum plays an important role in forging life-long learning competencies, as well as social attitudes and skills, such as tolerance and respect, constructive management of diversity, peaceful conflict management, promotion and respect of Human Rights, gender equality, justice and inclusiveness. At the same time, curriculum contributes to the development of thinking skills and the acquisition of relevant knowledge that learners need to apply in the context of their studies, daily life and careers. Curriculum is also increasingly called upon to support the learner’s personal development by contributing to enhancing their self-respect and confidence, motivation and aspirations.

In addition, there are many new and emerging challenges to education and demand on curriculum, such as new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); intercultural understanding; Sustainable Development; Learning to Live Together (LTLT); HIV and AIDS; Life skills; Competency development for life. Through their guiding function for education agents and stakeholders, clear, inspired and motivational curriculum documents and materials play an important role in ensuring education quality. Curriculum is implemented by teachers, and depends moreover on the quality of teaching and learning strategies, learning materials and assessment. The process of implementation of the curricula and the related issues are dealt in a number of Analytical Tools which form the UNESCO General Education Quality Analysis/Diagnosis Framework (GEQAF) of which this Analytical Tool is just one. This Analytical Tool is intended to support national education authorities (i. e. decision shapers/makers; curriculum specialists; teacher trainers; assessment specialists) to carry out a critical scanning of their curriculum "system" with a view to identifying the strong elements to be built upon, as well as the weaknesses/ shortcomings that hinder education quality. The paramount question for this analytical Tool is whether or not the curriculum we have in place enables us to impart on our learners the kinds of competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills and attitudes that are underpinned by values) we require for the type of society we envision to build and the challenges people have to face now and in the future.

The paramount question can be addressed by assessing the alignment of the curriculum to national development goals, the effectiveness of curriculum policies as well as the development, design and planning of the curricula.

Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the curricula and its responsiveness to new challenges and requirements is also a critical element which needs to be assessed. The diagnosis and analysis section below raises some key questions in each of the stages of the curriculum development and implementation process to support a structured discussion of the major issues regarding curricula and its effect on education quality.

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