A Global study of intended instructional time and official school curricula, 1980-2000. Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2005, The Quality Imperative
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The present report examines two critical, yet under-researched, aspects of children's school-based experiences: first, the amount of intended time – that is, yearly instructional hours -- countries expect enrolled pupils to be in school and given the opportunity to learn, and second, the curricular structuring of intended school time according to officially defined school subjects. Drawing upon extensive collections of official educational sources, mostly compiled by the International Bureau of Education (IBE), this paper reports global and regional patterns on intended instructional time and the prevalence of, and relative emphasis on, curricular subjects throughout primary and lower secondary education (grades 1-8) and in two historical periods (1980s and 2000s). Specifically, this report addresses the following questions: • How many hours of school-based instruction do educational authorities typically mandate during each year of primary and lower secondary education? • How do countries structure this instructional time in official timetables? • Which curricular categories are defined and what school subjects are taught? • To what extent do official subject emphases change between grades 1 and 8? • To what degree do policies concerning intended time and curricular emphases vary across education systems and how have they changed over the past two decades?.