New curriculum focuses on Africa
Themba Gadebe2 August 2005
The South African Department of Education is to introduce a new curriculum for Grades 10, 11 and 12 over three years, beginning in 2006.
The new National Curriculum Statement, announced in July, places more emphasis on life skills, mathematical literacy and Africa - particularly the continent's history, geography, music and dance. School subjects are also to be changed to foster the skills needed for a democratic society and a globalised world.
Announcing the new system, Education deputy director-general Penny Vinjevold said all provinces were in the process of training teachers in the curriculum.
"Teachers are undergoing a five-day training, with full-scale training to take place later," she said.
Vinjevold said all schools were ready for the curriculum, and new textbooks were in place.
The names of some subjects have been changed to reflect international trends and new subject content. Computer Application Technology replaces Typing and Computyping, Information Technology replaces Computer Studies, Life Sciences replaces Biology, and Consumer Studies replaces Home Economics.
Two new subjects are to be introduced: Life Orientation and Mathematical Literacy. These, with two official language subjects, are to be compulsory.
Vinjevold said that while most schools will offer both mathematical literacy and mathematics, some will initially offer one or the other until they are ready to offer both.
Except for the two new compulsory subjects, schools will not have to provide subjects they have not taught before, unless they can demonstrate the "physical and human resources" to do so.
The new subject content is to be introduced in increments.
"Not all new content will be assessed in the first three years of implementation. But in all subjects there will be some content introduced immediately."
Global skills for a globalised world
Education director-general Duncan Hindle said the existing curriculum was not only narrow, but also out-dated and with little focus on Africa.
Hindle said the introduction of a new curriculum was not unique to South Africa, but was an international benchmark fostering the necessary knowledge and skills to participate in and contribute to a democratic society and economy.
"Across the world, developed and developing countries have revised their curriculums in recent years, to take into account the knowledge and skills needed in a globalising 21st century," he said.
All subjects in the new system will be expanded and updated versions of subjects already offered in schools, he said.
"In most schools, the names of the subjects have not changed," he said. "But there is an increase in the demand for the physical sciences, history, geography, music and dance."
Hindle emphasised that the curriculum will require extensive reading and writing in all subjects. It will also require pupils to be aware of the social, moral, economic and ethical issues facing South Africans and citizens around the world. This, he said, was the vision the department had for high school graduates.
He said the achievement of this vision would depend on the careful planning and hard work of everyone in education, including education departments, higher education institutions, teachers, school management, governing bodies, parents and learners.