Education in South Africa

The Updated South African Curriculum
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The goals of Curriculum 2005 are optimistic, perhaps idealistic, and echo the values of the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.  In 2001, The Department of Education wrote a manifesto on Values, Education, and Democracy identifying the fundamental values of the constitution as:

– Democracy
– Social Justice and Equity
– Non Racism and Non-Sexism
– Ubuntu (Human Dignity)
– An Open Society
– Accountability/Responsibility
– Respect
– The Rule of Law
– Reconciliation

The Manifesto then outlines 16 strategies for encouraging young South Africans to follow the values of the Constitution within schooling, including but not limited to:

– Infusing the classroom with a culture of human rights
– Making multilingualism happen
– Using sport to shape social bonds and nurture nation-building at schools
– Dealing with HIV/AIDS and nurturing a culture of sexual and social responsibility.”

These strategies have infused both the subject areas of the national curriculum and the way in which subject matter is instructed, with the goal to create a new South African Democratic identity.

The Curriculum

Schools that follow or incorporate the revised curriculum, will structure instruction at all levels of compulsory education according to the core Learning Areas of Languages (English, Afrikaans, and possibly a native language such as Xhosa), Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Technology, Social Sciences, Arts & Culture, Life Orientation, and Economic & Management Sciences.  Within each Learning area, “the relationship between human rights, a healthy environment and social justice is addressed.”

Not only is the subject matter affected by the new vision of education, but the mode of instruction has transformed in a more progressive direction.  Rather than focusing on an end result, there has been a real switch to an “outcomes-based” education which values the process of learning just as much as content.  Under this new framework, schools provide a much more participatory, hands-on, and activity based education, with more room for interpretation and creativity, with the goal to promote lifelong learning.  Students are now referred to as “learners” and teachers as “educators.”

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