New subjects added for schools in South Africa

 ·7 Jun 2024

The Department of Basic Education has gazetted changes to the National Policy pertaining to the Programme and Promotion Requirements Grades R – 12, officially adding coding and robotics to the subject roster for grades R to 9.

The department has been piloting coding and robotics as a subject in schools for several years, starting with a small test group in grades R to 3 in 2021.

The latest gazette officially adds the subject to grades R to 9 in the National Curriculum Statement.

For grades R-3, the subject is included alongside mathematics, and for grades 4-9, the subject is included alongside mathematics, natural sciences and technology.

In terms of approved subjects for the National Qualifications Framework, it is listed under among other STEM subjects such as computer applications technology, mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences, information technology and maths literacy.

The subjects have not been added to the curriculum for grades 10 to 12 as yet.

An outline of the subject at the launch of the pilot showed how coding and robots would be taught in each phase:

Grade R – Grade 3 

In the foundation phase (Grades R-3) the subject has been organised into five study areas:

  • Pattern recognition: This includes learning to identify abstract and geometric patterns as an integral part of the design and computational thinking process which will assist learners in solving problems.

  • Algorithms and coding: This includes physical coding activities which progress from Grade 1 to digital platforms that are easy-to-learn and fun for learners to engage with.

  • Robotics skills: Learners are introduced to the fundamental mechanical and electrical engineering systems and circuits that are used in robotics. It will include creating logical steps that robots can follow as well as an understanding of basic electrical circuits.

  • Internet and e-communicating: This will cover topics such digital identities, safety on digital platforms, a basic overview of networks and the internet, and the safe use of web browsers to search for information.

  • Application skills: This will include the teaching of basic text editing and spreadsheet applications, as well as the use of digital devices.

Grade 4 – Grade 6

In the intermediate phase (Grades 4-6) the subject has been organised into four study areas:

  • Algorithms and coding: Algorithm and coding programming skills will be primarily developed by using a block-based coding platform. The block based platforms make use of easy to understand, drag and drop type coding where learners can focus on getting the details and correct inputs in the programs.

  • Robotics skills: This will introduce microcontrollers that will be coded using a block-based coding platform.

  • Internet and e-communication: Topics will include digital citizenship and Internet use as well as concepts of piracy, plagiarism and copyrights.

  • Application skills: Topics will include text-editing, spreadsheets, multimedia editing and computer-aided drawing.

Grade 7 – Grade 9

In the senior phase (Grades 7-9) the subject has been organised into four study areas:

  • Algorithms and coding: Algorithm and Coding programming skills in the senior phase are primarily developed by using a line-based programming interface. Learners are introduced to a line-based coding platform through a hybrid programming platform consisting of block-based and line-based coding. The line-based programming platform makes use of easy-to-understand, syntax-free programming where learners can focus on the programming concepts that are being taught.

  • Robotics skills: Robotics consists of two merging fields, including coding and engineering. Learners continue with mechanical and electrical engineering systems. The robotics strand combines the engineering design process and computational Thinking Process. The strand also introduces microcontrollers that will be coded using a line-based coding platform.

  • Internet and e-communication: This is aimed at providing skills which prepare learners to interact safely in a digital online and offline world;

  • Application skills: This is aimed at developing end-user skills that are used on different digital platforms. In the senior phase, learners are expected to engage with applications that build on data analysis and website development skills. This includes HTML and CSS, as well as spreadsheet applications.

The gazette can be read below:

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