2 big changes coming to South African schools

Government is implementing an Early Grade Reading Programme, which consists of an integrated package of lesson plans, additional reading materials and professional support to Foundation Phase teachers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa aims to mobilise the entire nation behind a massive reading campaign, and wants every 10 year old to be able to read for meaning within the next decade.

Speaking in his state of the nation address on Thursday (20 June), Ramaphosa said that early reading ‘is the basic foundation that determines a child’s educational progress, through school, through higher education and into the workplace’.

“All other interventions – from the work being done to improve the quality of basic education to the provision of free higher education for the poor, from our investment in TVET colleges to the expansion of workplace learning – will not produce the results we need unless we first ensure that children can read,” he said.

As part of this push, Ramaphosa said that all foundation and intermediate phase teachers are to be trained to teach reading in English and the African languages.

He added that government is currently training and deploying a cohort of experienced coaches to provide high-quality on-site support to teachers.

“We are also implementing the Early Grade Reading Programme, which consists of an integrated package of lesson plans, additional reading materials and professional support to Foundation Phase teachers,” he said.

“This forms part of the broader efforts to strengthen the basic education system by empowering school leadership teams, improving the capabilities of teachers and ensuring a more consistent measurement of progress for grades three, six and nine.”

New subjects

As part of plans to future-proof the economy, Ramaphosa also pledged to introduce a number of technology-focused subjects to the curriculum,

“We have to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future,” he said. “This is why we are introducing subjects like coding and data analytics at a primary school level.”

In April 2019, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said it had trained 43,774 teachers in computer skills and would shortly begin training teachers for the new coding curricula.

Basic Education Angie Motshekga said that these teachers will be trained on coding from June to September 2019.

Coding as a subject will be piloted at 1,000 schools across five provinces starting in the 2020 school year.

The minister said that the DBE will also be introducing a robotics curriculum from Grade R-9.

The curriculum will have a strong foundation in engineering and will enable learners to build and operate robots through programming code, she said.

“This robotics curriculum will not require any infrastructure or devices, but will need maker spaces to provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent; e.g., through cardboard construction activities,” she said.

“This will not only develop STEM skills, but also contribute to effectively developing children’s creativity, critical thinking, design thinking, and digital skills.

“This will ensure that South Africa develops learners who are makers and inventors who will contribute to building an innovative culture in South Africa,” she said.


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2 big changes coming to South African schools