Integrated science in the junior secondary school in Sri Lanka

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  • E X P E R I M E N T S A N D I N N O V A T I O N S IN E D U C A T I O N

    This series is published in English, in French and in Spanish

    Titles in this series:

    1. The T E V E C case

    2. The school readiness project

    3. Innovation in reading in Britain

    4 . Understanding change in education:

    an introduction

    5. Changes in secondary education and their

    implications for continuing education in Canada

    6. A community school in Yugoslavia

    7. The basic secondary school in the countryside:

    an educational innovation in Cuba

    8. The case of Cameroon: IPAR and the reform of

    secondary education

    * 9. Educational innovation in Singapore

    "10 . Educational innovation in Iran

    "11 . Educational innovation in India

    "12 . Educational innovation in the Republic of Korea

    "13. Educational innovation in Indonesia

    14. Experimental period of the International

    Baccalaureate: objectives and results

    15. Radio study group campaigns in the United

    ' Republic of Tanzania

    16. Educational reform in Peru

    17. Establishing an institution teaching by correspondence

    18. Youth participation in the development process:

    a case study in Panama

    19. Educational innovation in agrarian reform:

    Mostaganem Institute of Agricultural Technology, Algeria

    20 . Post-graduate teacher training: a Nigerian alternative

    21 . Roskilde University Centre: an innovation in higher

    education in Denmark

    22 . Educational innovation in Switzerland

    "23 . In-service training of teachers in Sri Lanka

    "24. Examination reforms in Sri Lanka

    "25 . Management of educational reforms in Sri Lanka

    "26. Integrated approach to curriculum development in

    primary education in Sri Lanka

    "27 . Integrated science in the junior secondary school

    in Sri Lanka

    "Titles in Asian series

  • Experiments and innovations in education N o . 2 7

    An Internationa/ Bureau of Education series

    Integrated science in the junior secondary school in Sri Lanka

    by A . M . Ranaweera

    Director of Education

    Curriculum Development Centre

    Ministry of Education, Sri Lanka

    Study prepared

    for the Asian Centre

    of Educational Innovation

    for Development

    The Unesco Press - Paris 1976

  • The designation employed and the presentation of the

    material in this publication do not imply the expression of

    any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Unesco

    Secretariat concerning the legal status of any country or

    territory, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations

    of the frontiers of any country or territory.


    \ J 7 Published'in. 1976 by.-the Unesco Press

    7, Place de Fontenoy, 7 5 7 0 0 Paris, France

    and the Asian Centre'of Educational

    Innovation for Development

    Unesco Regional Office for Education in Asia

    C . P . O . Box 1425, Bangkok, Thailand

    English edition ISBN 92-3-101374-2

    French edition ISBN 92-3-201374-6

    Spanish edition ISBN 92-3-201374-x

    Printed in Singapore

    by Singapore National Printers (Pte) Ltd.

    Unesco 1976 [B]

  • Preface

    In 1972 Sri Lanka initiated a major reform of its education system. A series of six studies, of which the present publication is one,1 describe the different aspects of education and h o w they were affected by the educational reform: in s o m e aspects totally n e w programmes, designed and developed ground-up, were introduced: in others, the current programmes were reoriented, with n e w emphases and focal points.

    The reform occurred in an education system which for quite a few decades had c o m e to be taken for granted because of its steady rhythm of expansion and growth. A s the present series of studies show, the driving force of the reform c a m e from out-side the education system, and lay in the urgencies of the social and economic situa-tion. The changes triggered off in consequence within the education system are both comprehensive and fundamental, and serve to illustrate h o w the processes of reform and innovation are interlinked.

    In the 1960s, m a n y countries in Asia including Sri Lanka initiated quite exten-sive programmes in reforming science education. In Sri Lanka the n e w science education programmes were directed to the upper grades of the secondary stage. The Educational Reforms of 1972 m a d e an important departure from this policy by shifting the emphasis to the lower grades where the largest number of pupils are.

    The present study gives a comprehensive background information on the science curriculum development from 1957 until the present day. Following the 1972 reforms, science became an important subject in the general education curriculum for grades 6 to 9 and took the form of integrated science.

    The Secretariat, while noting that the views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Unesco, records its appreciation to him for this valuable con-tribution to the series.

    The others are:

    Ariyadasa, K . D . In-service training of teachers in Sri Lanka.

    Premaratne, B. Examination reforms in Sri Lanka.

    Ariyadasa, K . D . Management of educational reform in Sri Lanka.

    Peiris. K. Integrated approach to curriculum development in primary education in Sri Lanka.

    Diyasena. W . Pre-vocational education in Sri Lanka.




    Survey of science curriculum development programme 1957-1972 1

    Formulation of objectives 2

    Operational principles and criteria for revision programme 3

    Science curriculum development project 1957-1972 4

    Development of science education 1957-1973 4

    Developments since 1972 Introduction of the new educational scheme 6


    Science at the junior secondary school level (grades 6-9) 9

    W h y integrated science? 10

    Objectives of the integrated science course 11

    Outline of four-year course 14


    Developing curriculum materials 23

    Resources 25

    Supporting services 28



    Survey of science curriculum development p r o g r a m m e 1 9 5 7 1 9 7 2

    The second half of the 20th century brought a great concern and urge to

    rethink school curricula both in the developed and developing worlds. The m o m e n -

    tous educational changes taking place throughout the world were an expression of

    the desire to provide better living conditions for all through modern scientific and

    technological achievements. In Sri Lanka this concern for changes in education and

    for a break-down in the disparity in educational facilities available to different

    economic, social and ability striations of the community manifested itself in m a n y

    ways. One major manifestation w a s the science curriculum development programme

    initiated in 1957.

    The curriculum development programme w a s spearheaded through science

    education because it w a s assumed that science and technology were the prime con-

    tributors to the highly accelerated changes taking place in the social, economic and

    cultural fields today, particularly in developing countries. The designers of science

    curricula have the great responsibility of acting as social engineers endeavouring to

    rebuild the social landscape and moulding the future generation to fit effectively,

    creatively and responsibly to the future world. Sri Lanka, as a developing country,

    has to look mainly to science education to provide the manpower and technical ex-

    pertise needed for rapid development.

    In this context the Ceylon Science Curriculum Development Programme w a s

    launched, and it took into consideration three major factors affecting science


    1. The rapid increase in school enrolment and in the characteristics of the pupil


    2. The advances m a d e in the field of learning theory and educational psychology

    which m a d e a significant contribution to classroom teaching methodology;

    3. The enormous increase in the content of science and the significant changes in

    the structure of science disciplines.

    The rapid changes in social values regarding education, the expansion of

    educational facilities to benefit underdeveloped regions and depressed social strata

    in Sri Lanka, the changes in society's utilization of individuals with secondary educa-

  • tion, the perceptible rise in living standards, and m a n y other factors, caused a rapid

    increase in the rate of school enrolment, especially in the sciences.

    There w a s cause for concern regarding the content and methodology of

    science teaching. For 9 5 per cent of the pupils enrolling for science, the G . C . E . (Or-

    dinary Level) examination at the end of grade 10 w a s the terminal course in science.

    Only about 5 per cent of the total science students had s o m e chance of utilizing their

    science learning at higher levels. It w a s realized that the academic, didactic, bookish

    teaching tradition considered to be suitable for the 5 per cent w a s hopelessly inade-

    quate for the 9 5 per cent of the less able pupils. Even for the more able of the G . C . E .

    (Ordinary Level) population, the didactic chalk-talk methodology w a s inadequate for

    achieving the objectives of science education.

    Changes in the composition and aspirations of the G . C . E . (Ordinary Level) pop-

    ulation demanded changes in the educational objectives hitherto assumed. As

    national and social needs change, education systems must review their goals and

    take necessary steps to provide a service to the community in a manner that is valid

    in terms of n e w or emerging cultures, national development patterns and contem-

    porary thought. In this context questions such as the following needed to be asked:

    i. W e r e w e teaching science in our schools?

    ii. W e r e w e teaching science that w a s suitable to our children?

    iii. W a s the teaching also concerned with the w a y scientists obtain scientific

    knowledge (process of science)?

    v. W a s the teaching concerned only with the body of scientific knowledge

    (product of science)?

    v. W e r e w e concerned with skills and attitudes as well?

    vi. Were w e using proper methods consistent with current knowledge of the lear-

    ning process?

    vii. W e r e w e assessing science learning suitably?

    viii. Were w e teaching in such a w a y that the system could readily adopt desirable

    changes, leading to efficiency and economy?

    The answers to these questions clearly indicated the need for a revision.

    Formulation of objectives

    In setting specific objectives for a n e w curriculum, the designers realized that a

    clear understanding of the dimensions of pupil growth, particularly in science educa-

    tion in Sri Lanka, w a s essential. This involved consideration of:

    Cognitive domain (knowledge frameworks, applications and uses of same)

    Psycho-motor domain (skills of specified types)

    Affective domain (attitudes and value frameworks)

    It w a s recognized that objectives should be based on the following factors:

    The Sri Lanka child

    (his present attitudes, goals, abilities, knowledge, skills, interests, needs)


  • i. The Sri Lanka society

    (its hopes and aspirations, its opportunities, its demands and defects)

    iii. The contribution science can make to the education of the child,

    iv. The process by which children learn

    (theory and practice of learning)

    From among the several significant analyses available for the cognitive domain,

    that of Bloom1 w a s used by the designers.

    Operational principles and criteria for revision p r o g r a m m e

    It w a s necessary to derive certain working principles and criteria to guide the

    designers of the n e w curriculum.

    These working principles and criteria were derived from:

    i. Current situation with regard to h u m a n , material and time resources;

    ii. Existing pattern of examinations;

    iii. Current theories of learning.

    Resource data

    In developing a n e w curriculum, it w a s realized that decisions pertaining to

    content, method and depth of treatment, pupil and teacher activities and ex-

    periments, and a host of other constituents had to be based on the quality and quan-

    tity of resources available. This necessitated a gathering of essential data related to

    h u m a n resources, material resources and time as a resource.

    Examination data

    The designers recognized that the data extractable from the examinations held

    at this level were shaped by characteristics of the educational environment of m a n y

    years. The data reflected the status of education, its objectives, and the

    achievements of pupils working towards those objectives. The analyses of the con-

    tent and objectives of the G . C . E . (Ordinary Level) examination revealed that all w a s

    not well with science education. A heavy bias in favour of mere factual recall w a s

    evident. It w a s not surprising, therefore, that the teaching, geared to the examina-

    tion, also emphasized the recall of factual information.

    Current theories of learning

    In addition to opinions about the manner in which children learn, voiced by ex-

    perienced teachers, a detailed consideration w a s m a d e of current thought in the field

    of learning and teaching. In this context, the following analyses were m a d e : process

    Bloom, Benjamin S. (Editor) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, N.Y., Longmans Green (1956)


  • of concept formation; theories of learning; transfer of learning; motivation in learning; attitudes; and learning motor skills. S o m e working principles were then derived to guide the designers of the n e w curriculum.

    Science curriculum development projects 1957 1972

    W h e n the Science Curriculum Development Programme w a s first planned in 1957, a survey of the situation indicated three levels of science teaching that needed attention:

    Level I: 6; 7 and 8 standard level (11+ to 1 4 + age group)

    In the middle school grades, general science w a s being introduced for the first time as a subject. (In a few large schools general science had been taught for over a decade).

    Level II: 9, 10 standard or G . C . E . (Ordinary Level) (14+ to 1 6 + age group)

    The G . C . E . (Ordinary Level) classes in science were available in a few relatively large schools at the time. There w a s a fairly long tradition of science teaching, but the approach adopted w a s determined by the objective of preparing pupils for ex-aminations. At this level no details of instructions were prescribed by the Department of Education, except in terms of examination syllabuses. These ex-amination syllabuses had been modelled on the London Matriculation and the Senior Cambridge Examinations. In consonance with the recognized examination objec-tives, the teaching methodology w a s largely didactic, with certain demonstrations or activities used only to verify the principles and facts taught.

    Level III: 11, 12 standard or the H . S . C . / G . C . E . (Advanced Level) (16+ to 1 9 + age group)

    Here the situation w a s similar to that in Level II but, in addition, practical work of a stereotyped nature w a s performed by pupils. This work was regarded more as practice for the practical examination at the end of the two years than as a base of experience for lear...


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