South Africa introduces 3 new subjects

South African learners will have the choice of studying three new subjects which are due to be added to the curriculum in 2020.

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) held a meeting in Pretoria last week to discuss and identify progressive changes aimed at improving the current school curriculum. These changes include the implementation of new subjects which aim to broaden employment horizons for learners upon finishing school.

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, commented on the decisions taken during the conference, which has since been reported on by Business Tech. The CEM holds the final say with regards to curriculum adaptations and has, so far, approved three new subjects.

Marine Studies

The CEM has confirmed that Marine Studies will be added to the school curriculum in 2020. Motshekga says that the maritime studies course is currently being developed in partnership with the Two Oceans Aquarium.

The subject will include studies in marine biology, oceanography, environmental sustainability and human interactions with the ocean. According to Motshekga, the course, which has already been approved by the government, will correlate with coastal schools already offering maritime programmes.

Motshekga confirmed that this specific subject will expand on courses already involving maritime issues, saying:

“The department has been working with the Two Oceans Aquarium to develop a maritime sciences curriculum from 2017. The intention of this curriculum is to expand the offering of maritime studies subjects.

This draft curriculum was submitted to Umalusi for evaluation in March 2018. The Two Oceans Aquarium has developed a number of maritime-related programmes.”

Computer coding

While Motshekga was mum on the exact details relating to the implementation of a coding course, she confirmed that learners would have the option to design code, through written instructions, which would lead to a greater understanding of robotics and automation.

The course, which has not been finalised, is aimed at readying learners for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has a strong focus on the digital age of automation. Motshekga added that this task driven programme is intrinsically linked to computer skills development, saying:

“A very exciting development we are working on is the introduction of coding as a subject in our schools.

Coding is unique in the way it brings all diverse skills together and this is one of the big advantages of teaching learners to code, as learning to program requires computational thinking skills.”

Kiswahili

The introduction of Kiswahili into the school curriculum has been prioritised by Motshekga and the CEM. The African language of the Swahili people was developed in the African Great Lakes region and is the official language of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the DRC.

Kiswahili is recognised as the official language of the East African Community and is the third most spoken language on the African continent.

Motshekga maintains that the implementation of African languages into the school curriculum is vital. Currently, there are 15 non-official languages listed in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) as optional subjects including French, German and Mandarin. Motshekga bemoaned the current Euro-centric language curriculum, saying:

“There is, unfortunately, no African language in the list. The origin of all these languages is outside the continent, except for Arabic, the Afro-Asiatic language family, which is spoken by North African Arabic countries. This continues to perpetuate colonial mentality and necessitated us to take action and rectify this.”

Motshekga also confirmed that the introduction of Kiswahili into the curriculum is aimed at bringing about a greater sense of social cohesions amongst Africans of all nationalities, saying:

“It was used as a trading language and a means of inter-ethnic communication long before the coming of Europeans in Africa. It is expanding to countries that never spoke it and has the power to bring Africans together.”

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