the ENS Curriculum for Development
||The Ecolé Normalé Superieure (ENS) English
department trains students for four years and awards them the degree of Teacher of English
as a Foreign Language in Malian High Schools. ENS has fulfilled this role, but to some
extent we wonder if it is realistic to continue teaching English as it is done now without
regard to developmental issues. This article will argue that if the ENS curriculum is to
serve the needs of development, it will require transformation of the ENS English
The purpose is to develop a curriculum for the ENS English department emphasizing the use
of English for developmental purposes (EDP) since the present English syllabus does not
adequately meet these needs.
In spite of the similarities between ESP and EDP with regard to Needs Analysis, there is a
great difference between the two approaches in terms of focus. Gueye (1990:249) attempted
to show the differences when he said:
One of the main differences between ESP and EDP is that whereas ESP tries to provide
the learner with skills to communicate in the work field, EDP tries to heighten
learners awareness in terms of the issues and problems related to the development of
their communities as the society at large. In EDP, teaching English is not viewed as a
mere tool to help learners cope with their working environment, but rather as a way of
enabling them to grasp the relevant issues of their community and foster its development.
In EDP, needs analysis should be supplemented with roles analysis.
However, no matter how appealing EDP seems to be, we must bear in mind the advice given by
Dubain and Olshtain (1986:92) when they stated:
A good language syllabus should have a well-specified goal towards which all are
moving; it should organize the material so that the learners can constantly progress in
their acquisition by using generalizations as stepping stones. It seems, therefore, that
objections must give meaningful direction to the organization of learning.
Actually, the mission of ENS must change because of the demands of our modern world and
the unemployment problems faced by all ENS graduates. In other words, ENS English
graduates can no longer find teaching positions in Malian High Schools, whereas in
development there is a great need for language skills English teachers possess in
abundance. As a result, we should be involved in preparing our graduates to take part in
the business life of the country and the world. Many of our graduates are being asked to
use their knowledge of English for much wider purposes than teaching English in high
schools. For example, teachers occasionally work in NGOs, embassies, oil and mining
companies; conduct population studies; translate documents; act as interpreters or tourist
guides; serve as clerks, secretaries, or administrators; and take part in literacy
campaigns. As we see, in many of these cases, our graduates use of English is a
gateway to many wider responsibilities in business, economics, and administration.
If we do not take into account the requirements and needs of Malian society by equating
training with employment, the ENS English graduates will just increase the number of
unemployed youth roving the streets of Bamako. This would be unfair if we consider that
the taxpayers money to train our students has been wasted. We all know that our
population is struggling to survive. As a result, providing our student with the
appropriate training will help them contribute positively to the resolution of some of the
problems facing our communities. That is why we strongly believe that Hutchinson and
Waters (1987:72) are right in saying:
Learning can, and should, be seen in the context in which it takes place.
Learning is not just a mental process; it is a process of negotiation between individuals
Society sets the target (in the case of ESP, performance in the target situation) and the
individuals must do their best to get as close to that target situation as is possible (or
.In the learning process, then, there is more than just the learner to
What we really need is to redefine the mission of the English department along the lines
of English for Development Purposes (EDP). This will enable us to answer the following
crucial questions: What is the relevance of the skills to be taught and how are these
needs going to be taken care of in the process of teaching?
Gueye (1990:24647) defined the role and mission of EDP when he stated:
Given that most third-world countries see English as a key that will give them access
to science, technology and world culture, I think that, in preparing learners of English,
curriculum designers should map out priority issues related to various aspects of the
socio-economic and socio-cultural development of the learners community. The English
teacher should then rely on this information to help learners not only to realize the
importance of the roles they will take later on in the development process of their
community after formal teaching is over, but also to develop critical thinking
In terms of methodology, EDP should be eclectic and rely on techniques used in EDP and
other language-teaching theories such as Community Language Learning, Suggestopedia, and
Because there are some prerequisites to fulfill before applying EDP, we must not be over
optimistic and think that EDP is a panacea.
||We should bear in mind that we are preparing the
future of our country by training its teachers and leaders. What the teachers at ENS need
is some background in computers or in political economics to catch up with developments in
the modern world which are unavailable in Mali. They must know, for example, why private
enterprise works or why it does not work. Private enterprise is not finding oil, selling
it, and getting rich. It is a whole system of relationships. Teachers at ENS have to
understand what a corporation is and what we call a private enterprise. Besides this, they
have to understand the philosophical and practical underpinnings of democracy, such as why
democracy tends to be more stable than other forms of government, at least in todays
world. We can ask English academics in different areas to come to ENS and give lectures on
a given issue. In short, without being specialists, English teachers in an EDP class have
to understand at least the organization and functioning of our modern world to help
sensitize their students, the future leaders of our country.
||Concrete proposals to
revitalize and re-adjust the ENS English curriculum in the light of EDP
||The logical question is: What needs to be done
to the traditional ENS English curriculum to make it more relevant to our development
First, we must conduct a needs analysis as recommended by ESP. This needs analysis, must
be supplemented with a roles analysis. According to Gueye (1990:247), Roles
Analysis will give information about the following:
- The learners identity and objectives in the English class.
- The learners assessment of their community members expectations from
educated people in the community.
- The learners assessment of the socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions of
- The learners anticipated future roles in terms of their desire or reluctance to
bring about social, cultural, or economic changes in their community life.
||If students have very different needs which call
for interdisciplinary groups, we need to follow the approach advocated by Gibbon and Scott
An approach has been tried which may point to a solution to the problem of bridging the
gap between general English and the study of a specialism. The first stage involves
exposing the student to the language he will encounter and be expected to handle in his
subsequent course of study and introducing the study skills required. The second stage
launches the student into his own specialism and requires him to research, to collate
information, and to produce a final written project.
It seems unrealistic to study English or American literature in the present economic
climate. Instead, we have to modify part of the English curriculum, making sure that our
graduates will have the same level, if not better, in English as well as an introduction
to EDP. Only the courses deemed indispensable for a good level of English will be
maintained. That is why, in the case of ENS, we would advise leaving intact the first year
English curriculum which consists of reinforcing the students basic skills in
speaking, listening, writing, and reading along with grammar, translation, composition,
In the second, third, and fourth year, we must also reduce the number of hours in
methodology, phonetics, linguistics, and eliminate subjects related to such topics as
medieval English, religion in America, etc. Teachers must determine which aspects are
relevant to an EDP course in the syllabus.
Important issues related to education, health, environmental education, and agriculture
must be integrated in our conversation courses in the first and second year, with
occasional participation of English-speaking guest speakers.
It is only in the second and third year that we introduce a modular scheme in which, for
example, priority issues related to economics and management, democracy and development
are addressed in the form of lectures by relevant academics. We must teach what
development or economics is all about in relation to our African society, and look at its
advantages and disadvantages for our communities. We must explain the economic
underpinnings of politics or the political underpinnings of economics, because it would be
difficult to separate economics from political economy.
In the fourth year, students are encouraged to have field visits at the UNDP, the World
Bank, USAID, CARE Mali, Peace Corps, and some NGOs to be familiar with the functioning of
these organizations and services in Bamako.
Students must be taught how to type and to use computers. Gueye (1989:70 79) stated:
I think that it is still worth trying to use microcomputers in TEFL in a
developing country. In language learning tasks, they can help students improve their
reading and writing skills. In the future, with the advent of new technologies, computers
will help develop listening and speaking skills as well.
Computers skills are necessary as computer literacy is required by employers.
We are quite aware of the financial problems arising from purchasing and maintaining
computers, but sacrifices should be made. For example, to get the necessary funding, our
students in the English department can give theatrical performances or organize concerts
with local or international artists. We may also set up a Computer Literacy Fund and
invite people to give donations. Steps must also be taken to ask some big computer
companies to help.
In conclusion, the vicious circle of unemployed graduates complaining that they have no
jobs and deprived populations complaining that they lack intellectuals to help them ensure
their survival must be broken. In other words, EDP must help to bridge the gap between a
desperate youth struggling to find jobs and a hopeless population in dire need of educated
leaders who care for their needs.
All that has been said about ENS or Mali is applicable, to some degree, to any school or
university in Africa or in the Third World. It is unfortunate that almost all Third World
countries share the sad reality of waste in human resources, and such a waste is
detrimental to creativity and the good will of decision makers. Let us be more optimistic
and say that positive change is still possible, provided we have the courage to administer
drastic changes in our educational systems in general, and our school curricula in
GUEYE teaches English at Ecolé Normalé Superieure of Bamako, Mali.
- Dubin, F., and E. Olshtain. 1986. Course design: Developing programs and materials for
language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Gibbon, J., and L. Scott. 1980. How to face inter-disciplinary groups. The Lexden
Papers, 2, pp. 7174.
- Gueye, M. 1989. Computers for EFL in developing countries: Problem and solutions. CALICO
Journal, 7, 1, pp. 7785.
- . 1990. One step beyond ESP: English for development purposes (EDP).
English Teaching Forum, 3, 3. pp. 3134.
- Hutchinson, T., and A. Waters. 1987. English for specific purposes: A learning-centred
approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.