Basic Education minister, Angie Motshekga, has confirmed that a number of changes will be coming to South African schools.
Presenting her annual performance plan to parliament on Tuesday (9 July), Motshekga said that this would include an increased focus on Early Childhood Development.
As part of its election manifesto published in January, the ANC said that it is preparing to make two years of Early Childhood Development compulsory (ECD) for all children.
This compulsory enrolment will apply to all South African children between the ages of four and five and will take place before the child enters grade 1.
“The president announced the ECD migration early in 2019 in his state of the nation address,” Motshekga said.
“To this effect, the DBE has started to develop work plans in the first 3 months of the sixth administration to drive the work streams in ECD migration.”
The department highlighted three other changes parents can expect in the future.
Tablets to all schools
Motshekga said that her department would focus on the provision of digitised material for learning on a tablets.
In March, she said that rollout would begin at select schools in 2020, with schools receiving tablets according to their quintile.
South African schools are divided into five quintiles, with Quintile 1 being the poorest quintile and Quintile 5 the least poor.
“The plan will be implemented in three phases commencing with phase 1 that will target multi-grade, multiphase, farm and selected rural schools (2020 – 2021),” Motshekga said.
“The second phase will target quintile 1 to 3 schools (2022 – 2023), and phase 3 will target quintile 4 and 5 schools (2024 – 2025).”
She added that all special needs schools will be accommodated in all phases according to the type of disability.
New languages of instruction
In his state of the nation address, president Cyril 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.”
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.