The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has commended the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for implementing the three-stream model in the South African curriculum.
The model, which was piloted across 58 schools in 2017, features three streams of education – academic, technical vocational and technical occupational.
As explained by the Helen Suzman Foundation’s Charles Simkins, up to now, basic education has only featured two streams – the academic/technical pathways.
However, both streams are built on a common school programme of general education up to the end of Grade 9, after which learners can either stay in schools or transfer to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
The third stream being introduced by the department is a technical occupational stream which will instead offer skills and vocational programmes and is aimed at producing students who can leave matric and immediately enter the workplace – with skills like spray painting, woodwork, and hairdressing.
This includes the introduction of subjects such as technical mathematics, technical science and entrepreneurship with the goal of producing 30,0000 artisans by 2030.
The DBE said the differentiated model attempts to prepare learners for the global world – with many South African businesses noting that students are not ready sufficiently prepared and that there is a chronic short-supply of skilled manual labourers.
Reducing strain on universities
Another positive of the three-stream model is that it is expected to reduce the current influx burden on South Africa’s universities.
The committee heard that certain provinces have seen an increase in learners taking particular subjects to ensure that they continue to obtain top positions in the National Senior Certificate examinations.
The DBE argued that this is because South Africa is currently overwhelmingly focused on the academic pathway, to the detriment of technical vocational and technical occupational opportunities.
In addition South Africa is pushing learners towards universities at rates that exceed international trends, it said.