Starting in 2020, South African learners will have the option to take up Kiswahili as an optional second additional language.
The announcement follows a meeting by the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) held in Pretoria last week Thursday (13 September). At the meeting, the CEM approved the listing of Kiswahili as a language that will be offered to learners.
There are currently 15 non-official languages listed in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) as optional subjects including the likes of French, German and Mandarin.
“There is, unfortunately, no African language in the list,” said Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga.
“The origin of all these languages is outside the continent, except for Arabic, the Afro-Asiatic language family, which is spoken by North African Arabic countries. This continues to perpetuate colonial mentality and necessitated us to take action and rectify this.”
Motshekga said the introduction of Kiswahili in South African schools will help to promote social cohesion amongst Africans.
“It was used as a trading language and a means of inter-ethnic communication long before the coming of Europeans in Africa. It is expanding to countries that never spoke it and has the power to bring Africans together,” said the minister.
Kiswahili is a Bantu language with lexical and linguistic similarities with many African languages spoken on the continent. It is the third most spoken language, with more than 100 million speakers in Africa after English and Arabic.
Another curriculum addition is that of Marine Sciences which was approved by CEM.
“The department has been working with the Two Oceans Aquarium to develop a maritime sciences curriculum from 2017. The intention of this curriculum is to expand the offering of maritime studies subjects,” said Motshekga.
“This draft curriculum was submitted to Umalusi for evaluation in March 2018. The Two Oceans Aquarium has developed a number of maritime-related programmes,” she said.
Courses include topics in marine biology, oceanography, environmental sustainability and human interactions with the ocean. Currently, there are 11 schools along the coast which offer maritime programmes – mainly focusing on maritime economics.
The new curriculum will supplement the offering for these schools of specialisation. This curriculum was approved for gazetting by the CEM.
The introduction of coding as a subject in schools is also on the cards for the department.
“A very exciting development we are working on is the introduction of coding as a subject in our schools,” said Motshekga.
“Coding is unique in the way it brings all diverse skills together and this is one of the big advantages of teaching learners to code, as learning to program requires computational thinking skills.”
While no details were provided on what types of coding languages or style learners may be exposed to, the department indicated that the course would allow written instructions that a robot or computer program can read and then execute.
Learners must determine the task they want to complete through a robot, design the code to make it happen, and then send it to the robot to view the outcome.
Motshekga added that other new subjects that are also going to be processed in the near future include aviation studies as well as nuclear technology.