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From compulsory pre-school to new subjects – these are the planned changes coming to schools


As parents and students prepare for another busy school calendar, South Africa’s Department of Education aims to introduce a number of changes at local schools.

These changes are primarily directed at improving the general standard of education in the country and include new subjects, two years of compulsory early childhood development, and a push to decolonise education.

BusinessTech looked at some of the planned changes in more detail below.

New subjects

As part of plans to future-proof the economy, president Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to introduce a number of technology-focused subjects to the curriculum.

In April 2019, the Department of Basic Education said it had trained 43,774 teachers in computer skills and would shortly begin training teachers for the new coding curricula.

The minister said that the DBE will also be introducing a robotics curriculum from Grade R-9.

Tech focus

In his state of the nation address in February 2019, Ramaphosa said that over the next six years, government will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device.

Ramaphosa said that the Department of Education would also expand the training of both educators and learners to ‘respond to emerging technologies’ including the internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Additional new technology subjects and specialisations will be introduced, including:

  • Technical mathematics;

  • Technical sciences;

  • Maritime sciences;

  • Aviation studies;

  • Mining sciences;

  • Aquaponics.

Decolonising education

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has also indicated her department will continue with the decolonisation of education through the teaching and promotion of African languages, South African and African history and national symbols to all learners up to Grade 12.

She said that a new compulsory history curriculum will also be introduced following public consultations.

Early childhood development

Government aims to enrol all South African children in a two-year compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme before starting Grade 1.

Presenting her departmental budget in July 2019, Motshekga said that ECD will improve the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy.

“To achieve that goal, we need to urgently proceed with the implementation of the two-years of ECD before Grade 1 and the systematic relocation of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education,” Motshekga said.

“The Department of Basic Education is working closely with the Department of Social Development and other partners to oversee the migration, and proceed with the process towards two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter Grade 1.”

Motshekga said that her department will develop a comprehensive plan for the different workstreams involved in the ECD function shift (Grade R, Grade RR, and Birth to 4), in collaboration with the relevant partners in government.



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