5 major changes coming to South African schools – including new subjects and early-leaving certificates

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has announced a number of major new changes will be coming to South African schools.

Presenting at the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) national congress on Thursday (26 September), Motshekga said that these changes would include new subjects, an additional school-leaving certificate, and new specialised schools.

You can find some of the biggest changes outlined below.


New subjects

Motshekga said that her department is working on a new curriculum which will ‘develop skills and competencies for a changing world’.

She said this curriculum will take into account the disruption brought by the 4th Industrial Revolution as well as the introduction of entrepreneurship, and schools of specialisation or ‘focus schools’.

“We have begun the process of strengthening our curriculum by introducing new and exciting subjects such as aviation studies, maritime, coding and robotics,” she said.

“Our plan is to introduce 10 types of focus schools incrementally throughout the country in the medium to long term to offer these new subjects and other skills-based subjects.

“We will establish hi-tech (IT, coding and robotics schools), arts, maths and science, BCM (business commerce and management), aviation, maritime, engineering, hospitality & tourism, schools of skills and commercial schools.”


New grade 9 certificate 

Motshekga said that her department is also working on the implementation of standardised assessments to reduce failure, repetition, and drop-out rates.

“We are also working on the introduction of multiple qualifications such as the General Education Certificate before the Grade 12 exit qualification.”

Motshekga said that the field trial for the General Education Certificate (GEC) at the end of Grade 9 is scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020.

Government has previously hinted at the introduction of a new school certificate, with the new Grade 9 qualification recognising the completion of General Education and Training Band (GET Band)

These learners can then decide to continue with their school studies, study further in TVET colleges or even choose to enter into the world of work.


Access to the internet and free data 

Motshekga said that within six years, all schools and education offices have access to internet and free data.

As part of this digitisation process, Motshekga said that her department would also complete and digitise CAT and IT Grade 10 -12 state-owned textbooks by the end of 2019, It will then look at digitising other textbooks.

“From 2021 onwards, we are looking forward to gradually increase from 34 available titles of the number of workbooks in an interactive format,” she said.

“It is envisaged that making availability of the workbooks in the interactive format will have cost savings in printing and distribution as the interactive workbooks will be available on gadgets as part of learning and teaching materials.”


Compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD)

Government aims to enrol all South African children in a two-year compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme before starting Grade 1.

Motshekga said that her department will develop a comprehensive plan for the different workstreams involved in the ECD function shift (Grade R, Grade RR, and Birth to 4), in collaboration with the relevant partners in government.


Decolonising education 

Motshekga said her department would continue with the decolonisation of education through the teaching and promotion of African languages, South African and African history and national symbols to all learners up to Grade 12.

She added that a new compulsory history curriculum would be introduced following public consultations.

“The reappointed Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on history has commenced the writing of a revised History curriculum based on the report developed by the MTT.

“The writing process will involve the call for public comments and inputs as soon as they are finished with the draft document. This step will be followed by the writing of new textbooks for History in Grades 4-12 that are in-line with the new curriculum.

“To prepare the system for the introduction of the new curriculum, there will have to be rigorous teacher training to prepare the system for the introduction of new the History curriculum.

“The introduction of compulsory History will be done phase by phase from Grade 10 until 12,” she said.


Read: Why a new Afrikaans-only university is a bad idea: Lesufi

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5 major changes coming to South African schools – including new subjects and early-leaving certificates