New subject changes planned for schools in South Africa

The department of basic education plans to further review its Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) curriculum to better prepare students for the fourth industrial revolution.

Presenting to parliament this week, the department noted that this will include the development of a mathematics framework which is aimed at introducing a ‘balanced and a multi-dimensional approach’ for the teaching of mathematics in South Africa and which paves the way for ‘creativity, innovation, problem solving and conceptual understanding in a dynamic classroom setting’.

The department said it will also focus on the introduction of skills that will be required for life in the 21st century in line with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Some of these skills and subjects include:

  • Ocean and Marine Engineering;
  • Aerospace Engineering;
  • Coding and Robotics;
  • Biomedical Engineering;
  • Earth and Space Sciences;
  • Earth and Human Sciences;
  • Entrepreneurship.

The department said that it also plans to accelerate the introduction of academic, technical and occupational schools which will increase accessibility to special focus schools, with greater emphasis on several low participating subjects including agricultural sciences and technology.

The department’s presentation comes after concerns were raised about the level of science and mathematics pass levels at the country’s schools.

Data presented by the department shows that the National Senior Certificate (matric) marks for these subjects have continued to hover around the 50% level while other subjects have been recording higher performances in recent years.

The department also noted that maths, science and technology teachers were ‘generally qualified’ but not suitably qualified or had not majored in the subjects that they teach, and there was a shortage of advisors for these subjects. It added that South Africa was currently grappling with a shortage of these teachers who were unevenly spread across the provinces.

“Teacher development remains a critical dimension of the MST education strategy and needs to be based on an audit of teachers’ competency levels and the development of appropriate programmes based on content and methodology to provide extensive teacher development on a continuous basis to create a classroom environment conducive to effective learning and teaching,” it said,

“Key to supporting MST teachers in schools are the Subject Advisors whose expertise and skills are required to identify and support teachers in maintaining standards expected of the curriculum.”

Read: Big changes for schools in South Africa including new subjects and a specialised curriculum

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New subject changes planned for schools in South Africa