World development AS-level launched

8th November 1996 at 00:00
New exam covers aid, debt, poverty and interdependence. Alison Doogan reports. A new AS syllabus, World Development, is now available in Wales and England for first examination in the summer of 1997.

It has been recently approved by the School Curriculum and Assessment Council and has been developed jointly by the Welsh Joint Education Committee, the Northern Examination and Assessment Board and various organisations with experience in development education, such as Oxfam, the Post-16 Stantonbury Project and the Centre for Development Studies at Swansea University.

The syllabus is largely concerned with economic growth, sustainable development, basic needs and rights, and the enhancement of equity and social justice throughout the world. It will enable students to obtain an understanding of the nature of globalisation and the different values and attitudes behind attempts both to interpret change within societies and to formulate appropriate styles of development.

Students are encouraged to use a wide range of data in order to understand the issues on a day to day basis not only in other parts of the world but also in their own communities. It is intended that they might be able then to evaluate their own position in today's world and not, merely describe so-called problems in the "Third World".

The syllabus consists of four units, each taking about 30 hours' teaching time. Each unit is expressed in terms of key ideas, six per unit, and illustrative content. The units are: * a study of development, people and environment * poverty, inequality and development issues * patterns of aid, trade and indebtedness * growing inter-dependence.

How is the syllabus examined? The scheme of assessment consists of a terminal examination (80 per cent of the total marks) of a written paper of two and a half hours duration, and course work (20 per cent) comprising an individual study.

The terminal exam consists of two sections. Section A has three compulsory issue-based questions for which candidates will be provided with data andor stimulus material and be expected to analyse and interpret them and apply their findings. For this section students need to draw from the whole syllabus. Section B will consist of six essay questions, one on each unit of the syllabus; and two which will adopt a cross-unit approach. Two questions must be answered.

Guidance Notes have been produced and the Teachers Handbook will be available very shortly. In-service training sessions are currently being planned and will be supported by the chief examiners.

Further support material is being produced by other involved organisations. To date there is a new reader, Winners and Losers: African Society and Development South of the Sahara (see review on page V). Produced by Oxfam and the Centre for Development Studies at Swansea University, it describes African history, looks at contemporary economic issues and considers the negative and positive affects of attempts to solve Africa's development problems.

Alison Doogan is a curriculum adviser for Oxfam in Wales who has contributed to the development of the syllabus of the AS in World Development

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