South Africa: New curriculum with a language and mathematics focus
A planned new curriculum for schools is to be introduced next year.
In her budget speech in parliament today, Minister of Education Naledi Pandor said that following a review of when to introduce it, and with the agreement of the Council of Education Ministers, the new curriculum will be introduced next year, in the further education and training band. However, it will be introduced with detailed plans and actions that will allow for a smooth transition, Ms Pandor said.
Draft requirements for the new Further Education and Training Certificate, which will replace the current senior certificate, include two languages - one of which must be a language of learning and teaching. Also required will be mathematics, or mathematical literacy, and "life orientation" as well as three other approved subjects, to be selected from subjects currently offered in schools. These draft requirements - to be published for public comment in the next few weeks - are based on internationally benchmarked requirements, the minister said.
The new framework lends itself to equipping students with the knowledge and skills required by the economy and a democratic nation, she said, and will require intensive training of teachers to prepare them to implement the new curriculum. Detailed assessment requirements will be developed for grades 10, 11 and 12.
Contrary to what some have been led to believe, the minister said, English will not be neglected - "that would be a foolhardy objective". Competence in English remains important. However, language cannot be used as a "tool of exclusion", the minister said, and language in education "cannot be seen solely as being about English or Afrikaans".
"The previously marginalized languages of our country require attention and affirmation."
"In this regard it is my view that we need to develop a language policy that vigorously and effectively promotes South African indigenous languages in all our schools."
The languages spoken by the majority of black people in South Africa need to move from the margins into the centre stage in education, the minister asserted. According to the South African Yearbook 2004/5 produced by Government Communications, isiZulu is the mother tongue of 23.8% of the population; this is followed by isiXhosa (17.6%). Sepedi and Afrikaans follow, as well as English, which, besides being the lingua franca arguably of South Africa and much of the world, is a mother-tongue for only about eight percent of South Africans.
The minister said there was no campaign against single-medium Afrikaans schools: rather, "there is a campaign to ensure that all our children have school places".
"I hope all members will agree that the time has come to make the learning of an African indigenous language compulsory in all our schools," Ms Pandor said.
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