Biology Curriculum and Capacity Building In Egypt

The twentieth century has been called the century of Biology. It has been marked by two major events; 50 years ago Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA for which they earned the Nobel Prize. This discovery of the double Helix structure of nucleic acid although predicted by some other scientists opened the door for a total new science of biology and the road to more and more discovery that helped humanity understand better life 47 years later the human genome sequence was revealed.The question that raises itself now having seen this revolution of biology and emergence of new life sciences do we prepare our students to meet the challenges of this science? Are we different from other educational systems? The Egyptian education system includes three stages covering 12 years, six primary, three preparatory and three secondary.The secondary stage is my focus; it is divided into two stages the first year that is general studies than two years of specialization that have a cumulative result that affect the chances of University choice of studies.The Egyptian learning system has been highly affected by the economic conditions of the country. Low resources have had their finger prints on the school system resulting in low investment per capita in buildings faced by an ever-increased demand for education created by a population that grows at a rate of 2.2% per year. The net result is an increased capacity of classrooms that reach sometime 80 pupils per class. Such education system failed to develop technology to the point that Egypt is still a consumer only of technology.  Marsh (1992) defined a curriculum framework as group of related subjects that fit together according to a predetermined set of criteria to appropriately cover an area of study. Print (1993) brings in a series of fundamental questions: What to teach? How to teach? When to teach? What is the impact of teaching? He also list important criteria for content selection: Significance, Validity, Relevance, Utility, Learnability and Interest. 

For a critical reader, learning objectives are not clear. The overall observation is that it is Academic rationalist conception with Subject centered design however it is not learnable to the point of being confusing in the second part where Botany and zoology are grouped together, it does not follow a logical build up and it does not respond to the requirements of the new life science.

 biology-1-table-2.jpg

The split of subjects between the two years as highlighted in the above table is not logical genetics and molecular biology had to follow the cellular theory in either years. Additionally. In the school book this unit covers 326 pages out of a total of 504 almost 65% of the syllabus is spent on this combination and only 22% is covering the new science of biology leaving 13% for changes in living organisms. One needs to review the whole science curriculum to detect any redundancy, it is the feeling of the writer that most topics were previously addressed in preparatory years.biology-2-graphc-2.jpg  

The above graphs clearly highlight that there is a higher content of the new life sciences in the American curriculum where it reaches 30% in comparison to the 22% of the Egyptian curriculum

biology3-table-2.jpg 

As a conclusion a lot is desired in terms of the content and presentation. Egyptian students are exposed to the new life sciences but not in the required breadth and depth. The Egyptian curriculum is still oriented to old biology, taxonomy more than cell and molecular biology the building blocks of this whole science.

  

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