Development of a Curriculum Framework for the Public Health Institute, Sudan

Sarah Mohammed Awadalla Salih (sarahoda@yahoo.com)
International Health, Leeds
August, 2011
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Abstract

Curriculum development is the overall process of curriculum design, including aim and objectives setting, learning and teaching methods and quality enhancement mechanisms. Realizing that the area of curriculum development is a wide area, this dissertation will analyse briefly the different elements of the process while trying to identify a possible framework appropriate for the public health institute in Sudan who is intending to introduce a postgraduate masters degree in health system management (MA HSM). The Public Health Institute (PHI) was established in 2009 under the management of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) with the mandate to contribute to health staff and health system development in Sudan. The author is affiliated to the PHI and is expected to act as the programme coordinator for the MA HSM.
The area of health management training is relatively new and literature specifically relating to curriculum development in this area is scarce. In Sudan, most training institutions still lack health management curriculum, the PHI currently lacks staff with the needed capacity and skills to develop such a programme. There is also a great need to improve the health management capacity of health professionals in Sudan.
Therefore, the aim of this study is to develop an understanding and theoretical framework of curriculum development for a postgraduate level training in health management for the PHI, Sudan. The main objectives and expected outputs are an overall understanding on how to develop and implement a curriculum suitable for postgraduate level training, a framework of a health management curriculum suitable for the PHI context and contribute to improving the capacity of PHI staff including the author in delivering health management training.
The methodology used is an in-depth analysis of secondary data mainly from literature review and internal PHI records for the overall understanding of curriculum development and the context and to come up with a suitable framework for the PHI. Two conceptual frameworks are used. The first is to show the different components of the curriculum development process and influencing factors and the second framework is used to analyze the internal strength and weaknesses of the PHI and the environmental threats and opportunities (SWOT analysis). The main limitations of this paper are scarcity in relevant data especially from Sudan and the realization that the framework suggested is the authors own opinion and its for discussion and consultation with the PHI staff.
Literature review has shown that models of curriculum development illustrate four common elements: Needs assessment; objectives; teaching and learning strategies; assessment and evaluation processes. The modern trend also shows a shift to a student-centered, problem-based, integrated, and community oriented approach to curriculum development. The resources for curriculum implementation and quality enhancement are important considerations like staff and learning resources.
The key to a suitable curriculum framework for the PHI would be forging an educationally sound and logically linked objectives, course content, teaching and learning methods and assessment while taking into consideration the PHI factors, student characteristics and Sudan context. This includes a proper training needs assessment which is already conducted in January this year, a clear aim and SMART objectives, a flexible modular type curriculum with core and specific modules and a module based on independent study like a dissertation to complement a master level degree. Elective (optional) modules might not be possible at the current PHI capacity. Teaching methods should support deep learning approaches and critical thinking among students through the use of postgraduate teaching techniques like small group teaching, problem based learning (PBL) and tutorials. A quality enhancement culture needs to be fostered through the set up of a guiding policy and setting appropriate academic standards including student assessment, promoting teaching assessment and curriculum evaluation.