South Africa

‘Rewriting our history books and curriculum is a good start’ – planned changes for schools in South Africa

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided the scope for a shake-up of South Africa’s school system, says basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

Addressing an education conference on Thursday (7 April), Motshekga said that she was not advocating for ‘wholesale curriculum changes’, but noted that there was room for an overhaul of key issues.

“Based on the international practices and literature, there is a need to accurately determine the most appropriate curriculum approach given the changing topography of the sector post-Covid-19. We must envisage the development of a South African competency-based curriculum framework that addresses the unique South African context.

“As public schooling advocates, we are not the training mill for the industry; hence, we must think about how to use basic education curriculum reforms for social cohesion. Rewriting our history books and curriculum is a good start.”

Some of the key proposals highlighted by Motshekga in her address include:


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“There is an urgent need to constructively address the language in education policy, which currently limits the language of learning and teaching to English and Afrikaans,” Motshekga said.

“We must strike while the iron is hot and commission a full scale extended research on the language issue and what will be the most appropriate policy relating to the language of learning and teaching.”


Motshekga said there will be no point in ‘rebooting the system’ if the country does not confront the low uptake and throughput in STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

She added that learners must be able to read for meaning by their tenth birthday, while all children should be meeting all developmental milestones by the age of five.


Every school child in South Africa must be supplied with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device by 2024.


The dire state of school infrastructure in townships and rural areas remains a ‘bugbear’ for the department and this urgently needs to be addressed, Motshekga said.

“We need reliable data on the current state of school infrastructure. We must eradicate infrastructure backlogs relating to inappropriate structures, sanitation and water supply. We must eradicate pit latrine toilets. We need to repair schools damaged by storms and vandals promptly.”

Read: South Africa’s NHI is coming – whether you like it or not: government

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