Evaluation Design of a New Modification to the Curriculum on Citizenship for Elementary School in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Developing countries of the world today are facing unprecedented challenges in attaining sustainable development. Many developing countries are plagued by issues such as poverty, population growth, terrorism, dearth of qualified teaching staff, and territorial conflicts. To find a solution to this, many economists have devised various strategies both at the macroeconomic and microeconomic levels. Experts suggest that enhancing the student learning process during early ages can increase the dynamism of the economy. To be competitive, emerging markets need to develop their learning capacities.
Justin Yifu Lin and Claudia Paz Sepulveda argue that developing countries need to close the knowledge gap that exists between them and the developed nations to achieve meaningful progress. They state that a country can enhance its learning capacities if it learns how to learn. International organizations like the UN and IMF have toiled hard to ensure the development of good early learning facilities in developing nations. They view development of early learning as a part of a larger policy discourse on developing human capital.
Based on the factors above, this paper aims at developing experiments for the purpose of testing the effectiveness of the proposed modifications to the National Citizen Curriculum (NCC) in Saudi Arabia for 4th – 6th graders. A pilot project is created for elementary schools in the second largest city of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah. The paper also aims at providing an impact evaluation design for the modified curriculum.
2. Research Framework
Saudi Arabia is the biggest economy in the Middle East and is the largest producer of crude oil in the world. Though economic growth of the country has been stable over the years, experts have stressed on the need to increase its expenditure on infrastructure and productive capacity rather than on capital expenditure. Joharji and Starr opine that “an increase in government spending in Saudi Arabia may raise the steady-state rate of growth due to positive spillover effects on investment in physical and/or human capital.”
Though the economy of the country remains well capitalized and capable of withstanding temporary shocks, there have been some important steps taken by the government to be prepared for the forecasted crude oil decline. The economy of Saudi Arabia is undergoing an important shift as there is a gradual decline in oil surpluses. Hence, the government is taking new steps for diversification and is bringing about significant modifications in its institutional framework to meet the social challenges caused by the huge population growth.
The Neo-Classical model of Growth suggests that for an economy such as Saudi Arabia, it is important to stress on the development of social capital, by increasing government expenditure on institutional development. Social capital will enhance the human capital, and for that to happen policies should go beyond promoting strict schooling. An effective scenario would be to inculcate an environment that encourages social behavior conducive to facilitate factors such as faith, belief, respect, broadmindedness, integrity, accountability, etc.
The proposed evaluation design is based on these premises and will center on educational programs for primary schools.
3. Program Evaluation
Though the governance of the country is tightly controlled by the royal family, Saudi Arabia has taken a number of measures to bring about political and social reforms. Accordingly, there are many steps taken, in the recent years, to increase transparency and accountability of its government institutions. One of the main agenda of this revamp includes countering bribery and corruption. Bribery is looked upon as a serious crime by the Quran, and though the concept of anti-bribery has always been central to Saudi Arabian legislative system, anti—corruption has gained renewed importance recently.
In 2007, the council of ministers approved a plan called National Strategy for Maintaining Integrity and Combating Corruption. Another reason for the increased efforts to combat corruption can be traced to the ‘Arab Spring,’ which was induced by the public outrage towards corrupt governments resulting in toppling of many government heads. The Royal order decreed the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), which aims at combating administrative corruption.
Thus, in line with the efforts of the government to fight corruption, our model suggests a bottom-up approach by cultivating social responsibility of fighting bribery. This can be done through infusing in the educational system the values the government expects to be seen in its labor force. By inculcating a curriculum that promotes these traits, the students would grow up into responsible executives when they take up jobs in the public and private sectors.
A UN report suggests that developing a culture of non-tolerance through education would help, in the long-term, to eliminate corruption. The education program should instruct the students about the meaning of corruptions, its impact on human rights and its damaging effects on the society. Hence, this proposed program is likely to induce strong principles in the minds of the children, which will be deep rooted in them and will reflect in their activities when they grow and take up public offices. Additionally, this program will also be in line with initiatives taken by the Saudi king to combat corruption.
The new design proposed in this paper aims to enrich the existing educational program run by the Ministry of Education, for the students from 4th grade till 6th grade. The system proposed in this paper would help take on corruption by introducing a bottom-up approach. It involves introducing civic and social responsibility as a part of the existing curriculum. The design proposed is inspired by two such educational programs, which were, in the past, successful in achieving the above-mentioned goals. They are’ Nqatoqi’ of the University of Itsmo in Guatemala and the ‘Leaders Now International program’ of the United States.
The model uses the ‘Socratic Method,’ which is the oldest and most powerful methodology of fostering critical thinking. It involves probing the mind of the students by giving them questions to ponder on rather than answers. This facilitates focusing on logical elements of the problem and induces disciplined thought. It also allows the participants to question the goals and motives and analyze key concepts and ideas.
The goals of the proposed program can be summarized as below:
For Fourth graders
- Fortifying their abilities to cooperate and exhibit cohesion.
- Instilling a liking and admiration for natural resources.
For Fifth graders
- Inculcating in them values such as acceptance, forgiveness, and respect.
- Cultivating the ability to promote justice in their work and view their profession as a service to the community.
For Sixth Graders
- Helping students develop a strong mind and character by imbibing in them qualities such as strength, belief and temperance.
- Developing in them a keen sense of civic and social responsibility.
4. Population Served
The sample of the project was obtained from primary schools in Jeddah, and the population consists of students from 4th grade – 6th grades. The schools are unisex, and the below-given table (1) gives a picture of the sex distribution found in the schools.
The project will be conducted in two phases. The first phase involves conducting a pilot study with a small population, to check the effectiveness of the proposed changes, and during the second phase the trail will be conducted on a larger sample.
5. Literature review
In recent years, there has been a call from many factions for Saudi Arabia to strengthen its institutions. Statistics shows that the Government expenditure on public services increased from US$1.6 billion in 1970 to US$158.9 billion in 2010. Alshahrani and Alsadiq state that “Government expenditures on education and defense are likely to affect private sector productivity or property rights, which matters for private investment.” The country is encouraging the growth of private sector for diversifying its economy and for providing employment opportunities for its growing population.
This underlines the importance of strengthening education system in the country. Also, to have strong private institutions an efficient and responsible labor force is imperative. Saudi Arabia is threatened by the increasing rate of corruption prevalent in its public and private sector. According to Transparency International, Saudi Arabia occupies 63rd Rank among the countries of the world in perceived levels of corruption. It has a score of 46 in a scale of 0 to 100. While it is better placed than many of its neighbors, it is still an alarming situation which should not be allowed to exacerbate. From the above statistics, it is clear that the major roadblock to the development of private sector in Saudi Arabia is not lack of investment but lack of transparency.
Economists have always placed great stress on the importance of investments in education. They believe that human capital is an important aspect of economic growth. Targeted investments in the education sector will lead to increased rates of growth, and thus, there is a need for designing policies that would aid effective learning. Having a quality early education system is central to developing knowledgeable and skilled workforce.
The impact of a good early education system can be witnessed in health as well as social outcomes. However, students do not learn in isolation and a plethora of factors, both inside and outside the system, contribute towards this experience. These factors interact and help in the development of the children into competent and independent learners. Globalization and the speed at which it is happening have thrown new challenges to the education systems of the world countries. Information and ideas are being exchanged in lightning speed, throwing up new challenges for policy discourse. The resultant ideological changes and change in the market economic structures, have further accentuated the significance of the early education system.
Hanushek and Wößmann argue that the quality of education imparted plays a huge role in the economic growth of the country. They state that, “the cognitive skills of the population – rather than mere school attainment – are powerfully related to individual earnings, to the distribution of income, and to economic growth.” They elucidate how education levels of the population differ drastically between the developed and developing nations, and argue that raising the schooling levels is imperative for improving the quality of human capital.
Peter Eigen, the head of Transparency International, argues that civil society is a necessary element in the fight against bribery and corrupt practices. He further states that civil society should work along with the Government and private sector. Civil society can play a number of roles in fighting corruption such as monitoring, criticizing and publicizing information regarding corrupt practices. When corruption is rampant in a country, it suggests that a large part of the society is a participant in this corrupt process. Thus, there is an immediate need for education programs that would prepare the population to fight corruption.
Hanushek and Wößmann explain that just increasing the investment in educations sector alone would not translate into gains in terms of human capital. Improving the quality of education should be central to any new educational program. Studies also show that improving the quality of education has a vital impact on the distribution of income. Particularly, for the purpose of our study, to decrease corruption the quality of education is vital. The goals of education should not just be academic development alone, but a quality education should result in a well-rounded development of an individual. It should contribute to the growth of his social, emotional and ethical skills.
6. Structure of the Evaluation
The evaluation is done through a two-step process. The first stage involves conducting a pilot study with a limited sample. Based on the results of the first phase, the experiment is repeated with a larger population. During the first phase, two analyses are conducted before and after the experiment. The survey is designed and distributed among the sample to gauge the effect of the program. The survey employs an integral approach.
There are four sections in the survey – a) identification b) execution c) information about the content and techniques used in the evaluation program and d) outcome in terms of values, quality of life and civic and social responsibility.
The results of the pilot study are taken into consideration during the implementation of stage two. The curriculum is modified based on the results of the pilot study, and the experiment is repeated using a larger sample. Sample is selected from a larger pool of citywide population. The same four sections used in the pilot survey is employed, and in phase two a baseline is collected in addition to the pre and post data.
A modified curriculum could not be implemented without providing adequate training to teachers. For the purpose evaluating the effectiveness of the training given to teachers, an additional section will be added which will measure the outcome of the training. This training will stress on the importance of indulging students in every part of the curriculum and encouraging them to actively participate in discussions. Since the students are the primary beneficiaries of the modified curriculum, their opinions and reactions are taken into account to improve the quality of the program.
7. Sample Design
Binomial sample distribution method is used to determine the sample size of the two groups under evaluation – treated and non-treated. An allowance of 10% and 20% will be allowed for clustering effect and error correction respectively. The formula used is n = z2pq/e2. By applying the formula, the sample size required is depicted in table 3.
Since teachers and parents have a heavy influence of the outcome, they will also be surveyed. The sample of teachers and parents interviewed will depend on the students selected for the study.
8. Data Collection and Justification
First, the present curriculum will be assessed, and trial experiment will be developed to evaluate the proposed revisions. The sample will be divided into treatment and control groups, and data will be collected before and after the implementation of the experiment. This will helps us to find out glitches, if any, in the proposed method, and allow us to rectify them before conducting the experiment with a larger sample. The trial involves exposing the students to the various stages and aspects of the curriculum designed. There will be two groups for each grade (4th, 5th, and 6th). One group will be the treatment group and will be exposed to the curriculum while the other group will act as a control group.
9. Methodology Plan for the Analysis
The experiments will be done over the period of a fortnight. The results obtained from the first stage will be analyzed using multiple regression analysis. It is a powerful technique to predict an unknown variable when two or more variables of the equation have a known value. Additionally, this method helps us to predict the influence each of these variables has on the end result.This method is widely employed for predictions and forecasting.
The results of the second phase will be analyzed using differences in differences regression. Since we are using a baseline during the second phase, this method was selected. It is a technique used to compare data over a period of time between the treatment group and the control group.
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