The existing madrasah curriculum which is tied to the more than a 1000 year old strong tradition of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt will be given a boost through the implementation of the ukhrawi or Azhar 2.0 curriculum. The existing Al-Azhar curriculum taught is based on Understanding by Design (UbD) curriculum framework and include the following content features, approaches and assessment methods:
Understanding by Design® (UbD) Framework:
• Understanding by Design (UbD) is a curriculum planning framework that the Madrasah Secondary Curriculum Development Project (SCDP) is based on. It is a philosophy drawn from the learning theories that focus on the concept of transformational learning and backward design.
• UbD is a way of thinking about learning, assessment and teaching that puts the students at the centre of the learning process. UbD focuses on helping students come to an understanding of important ideas and transfer their learning to new situations.
• It is a way of thinking more purposefully and carefully about the nature of any design that has understanding as the goal. It focuses on ‘teaching for understanding’ and the goal of learning is ‘Understanding’. The core of UbD framework is that learners acquire deep understanding for life and not just for examinations.
• UbD addresses the students’ needs thus addressing the school system’s needs by having students enduring the learning for life. It provides a smooth integration between subject domains and helps students make connections between what they learned and real-life situations.
• Integrated: A new integrated curriculum will be introduced for the current 18 ukhrawi subjects currently offered – regrouped into 6 subject groupings. The integration of content within Discipline is ensured through Domain Mastery, Spiral Curriculum, ‘Process-based’ Learning Approach and Selection of Relevant and Meaningful Topics.
• Inter-disciplinary: The inter-disciplinary content is connected across disciplines and other Sciences.
• Age and Developmentally-Appropriate: The content would be relevant and in accordance to students’ age and development by addressing it from Simple to Complex, Known to Unknown, Concrete to Abstract, Self to Society and Relevance to Age and Developmental Stages.
• Authentic and Broad-Based: The discussions of content would be connected to Experts and Scholars, Family, ICT & New Media, Community, Organisations, Institutions and Student Development Areas; Character, Spiritual, Leadership and 21st Century Skills.
• Contemporary and Contextualized: Contemporary and contextualized issues would be discussed and reflected from the perspective of Islamic and academic sciences through Current Challenges and Issues, Lifestyles and Practices, Multiple Intra-Faith Groupings and Orientations and On-going Inter-Faith Challenges.
• Inquiry-Based Learning: A form of active learning which allows students to ask questions on issues while gaining new information. It is the process of exploring knowledge through questioning. Students will be exposed to more critical and analytical thinking skills, will shift the emphasis away from pure rote learning, but still retaining the ethical framework which underpins Islam. The assessments are based on the experimental and analytical skills students developed rather than the knowledge possessed.
• Collaborative Learning: Collaborative Learning involves students working with each other capitalizing on each other’s knowledge, understanding, resources, experiences, solutions and skills while taking on individual’s responsibility and accountability.
• Authentic Experiences: Authentic Experiences provide students with true learning which help students discover the connection of learning to their lives. The learning environments are multi-disciplinary which are based on real-world issues and the solutions which involve the Environment, Assessments, Educators (Experts & Scholars) and Information (Relevant, Current & Valid).
• Application-Oriented: Application-Oriented is making lessons learnt lasting and applicable to lives. Students need to see the importance and relevance of the knowledge gained in the classroom which then transforms learning into actions. It is a mean of providing students context for the content.
• Formative & Authentic Assessments: Formative Assessment is a continuous effort of collecting, synthesizing and interpreting data about the students’ knowledge & understanding, skills and attitudes in learning. It is designed to provide immediate, explicit and qualitative feedbacks to help learners and teachers during the learning process. It acts as an indication of how the learning is progressing. Formative Assessment is process evaluation that focuses on the details of content and performance. Meanwhile, Authentic Assessments are tasks that replicate the ways in which students’ knowledge and abilities are applied in real-life situations. Assessment should be authentic which means ‘realistic’ to students’ life. It caters students with various contextual platforms designed to emphasize realistic complexity where students participate in dealing with the messiness of real or simulated settings, purpose and audience that is a faithful representation of real-world challenges. Authentic assessments allow students to engage in authentic activities that require them to construct new knowledge and experience learning in context as part of the community. Authentic contexts encourage authentic work and authentic work is more engaging and impactful because students experience the topic ‘personally and in the real-world’.
• Summative Assessment: Summative Assessment is a form of cumulative evaluation which measures learners’ growth and learning development at the end of a learning experience. It is a means to determine learners’ mastery and understanding of information, skills, processes and concepts. It is designed to determine whether long-term learning goals have been met. Summative Assessment is product evaluation that focuses on the finished product.