The ANC study group on basic education welcomed the findings of the basic education ministerial task team on making history a compulsory subject in South African schools.
The report, which was presented in Parliament on Tuesday, showed the processes taken by the Ministerial Task Team as well as its findings and recommendations with regards to history as a compulsory school subject.
The task team was established in 2015 and was given the terms of reference to conduct a comparative international study on how to best implement the introduction of history as a compulsory subject up until matric.
The task team recommended a phased approach and that compulsory history be introduced.
It recommended that “Africa-centeredness” become a principle in revisiting content, specifically that both ancient and pre-colonial African history be brought into the curriculum for Grades 10 to 12.
The ANC task team supported the move.
They, however, recognised the possible challenges that will be faced, especially relating to funding the restructuring of the curriculum, training of teachers as well as the writing, quality assurance and printing of textbooks.
“Whilst acknowledging efforts by the department as well as the ministerial task team to date, we urge them to fast track all avenues of implementation including consultations with the Department of Higher Education and Training, Teacher Unions and other relevant stakeholders,” said ANC Study Group Spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli.
Mhlauli said history as a compulsory subject in schools was long overdue. She said the subject played a pivotal role in building a sense of nationalism, patriotism and national unity.
She added that history, as a subject, enabled South African citizens to learn and understand the struggles that were faced by many in order for this country to gain democracy.
The report completed by the ministerial task team found that certain aspects of pre-colonial history are taught [in Grades R to 9]. The report read that this tended to be portrayed as a ‘happy story’, appropriate to that level, but fails to provide the nuanced and complex history which should be taught at a higher level [in Grades 10 to 12].
“Problematic and controversial issues and themes, such as class, social stratification and the status of women and workers in ancient and pre-colonial history, must be included,” the team recommended.
The task team also found strong circumstantial evidence that many schools avoided teaching apartheid history, although it is included in the current curriculum, the report reads.
Mhlauli said history as a school subject needed to tackle social inequality and speak to issues of social cohesion, national and African identity.
“It must contribute to our project of decolonising our school curriculum. As a school subject, it will increase the analytical and cognitive thinking of learners which will build learners in a holistic manner,” she said.