Capacities required

The success of any curriculum development process is anchored in coordination of the different activities leading to the final products. This requires the ability to identify experts, manage the participation of different stakeholders in the various stages of the process, and keep up the momentum. When organising writeshops, facilitation capacity becomes crucial in guiding the discussions and leading the process towards a common goal. A facilitator needs to understand the curriculum development process and to guide the writers.

The quality of any curriculum stands or falls with the content specialists. There is a need to identify relevant content experts/specialists who are not only competent in the subject matter, but also up to date with emerging trends. Content experts are not necessarily experts in technical writing.

Technical writers are responsible for writing, layout, editing, and quality assurance of the final products. This may also be done by education or learning experts who know how to structure the text in an appropriate format with activities that people can learn from.

A wide range of stakeholders need to be involved in testing the modules before finalisation. The more diverse the group, the better, as this brings different perspectives.

Gender considerations are also important (see Box 4). The feedback received needs to be incorporated to improve the final product. Accreditation of training programmes requires special expertise, and will differ from country to country.

Costs

Curriculum development requires different types of expertise throughout the process from situation analysis to final product. The different stages require not only human resources, but also financial inputs. These will depend on the level (national or local), scope (number of courses to be developed, mode of delivery), and activities (writeshops, technical writing, testing, monitoring and evaluation).

The GFRAS New Extensionist Learning Kit, with 13 modules, was developed at the global level, and the activities incurring costs included: situational analysis, stakeholder workshop, writeshops, technical writing, and testing. The actual writing, typesetting, and editing is estimated to cost US$2,000–5,000 per module.

Strengths and weaknesses

Different options for curriculum development each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Finding a good mix of options while maintaining maximum quality is important. For example, omitting market analysis or testing due to cost-cutting runs the risk of producing irrelevant material. It is important to understand the environment and determine what make sense for that context.

Box 4: Gender considerations

Gender sensitivity is important in curriculum development. Learning should be suitable for both male and female learners, and the skills emphasised should draw attention to gender disparities, stereotypes, and other constraints experienced in the field. When selecting experts for curriculum/ content development, gender balance should also be considered in order to gain a balanced perspective.