‘Rewriting our history books and our curriculum is a good start’ – changes planned for schools in South Africa

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The Covid-19 pandemic has paved the way for upheaval in the South African school system, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said.

Addressing an education conference on Thursday (April 7), Motshekga said she was not advocating for ‘wholesale curriculum changes’ but noted there was room for an overhaul key questions.

“Based on international practices and literature, it is necessary to determine precisely the most appropriate curricular approach given the changing topography of the sector after Covid-19. We must consider the development of a competency-based South African curriculum framework that responds to the unique context of South Africa.

“As advocates of public education, we are not the training factory of industry; therefore, we need to think about how to use basic education curriculum reforms for social cohesion. Rewriting our history books and our school curriculum is a good start.

Some of the key propositions highlighted by Motshekga in his speech include:


Tongue

“There is an urgent need to constructively address language in education policy, which currently limits the language of learning and teaching to English and Afrikaans,” Motshekga said.

“We need to strike while the iron is hot and commission large-scale in-depth research into the language question and what will be the most appropriate policy regarding language of learning and teaching.”


STEM

Motshekga said there would be no point in “rebooting the system” if the country does not address low adoption and low throughput in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

She added that learners must be able to read to understand before their tenth birthday, while all children should reach all developmental milestones by the age of five.


Technology

Every schoolchild in South Africa is to receive digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet by 2024.


Infrastructure

The dire state of school infrastructure in townships and rural areas remains a “pet peeve” for the department and needs to be addressed urgently, Motshekga said.

“We need reliable data on the current state of school infrastructure. We must eradicate infrastructure backlogs related to inadequate structures, sanitation and water supply. We must eradicate pit latrines. We must quickly repair schools damaged by storms and vandals.


Read: South Africa’s NHI is coming – whether you like it or not: government

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