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Friday, June 18, 2021

South Africa: Afrocentric history curriculum gets the nod

Sne Masuku

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has approved the reappointment of the history ministerial task team to overhaul the curriculum to make it more Afrocentric and relevant to South African pupils.

The announcement was welcomed by teachers’ unions and teachers in KwaZulu-Natal.

The reappointment follows the key recommendations of the ministerial task team report released last December that found there was a need for a complete overhaul of the history curriculum from grades 4 to 12 to ensure multiple perspectives were covered.

The reappointment, according to the department, was the next step towards the decolonisation of the education system.

Bheki Shandu, of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, said KwaZulu-Natal had the richest history of leaders who fought colonialism and activists who stood up against apartheid.

“In one way or another, pupils would now be reading about the history of their great grandfathers who were involved in the history of the country, the formation of political parties, what they went through and what led to the freedom they are enjoying today,” he said.

The team comprises the same people who had conducted the feasibility study of making history a compulsory school subject.

It is set to develop a new history curriculum, conduct provincial consultations in the education sector and obtain input and comment for consideration on the new curriculum.

The task team has also been tasked with the screening of textbooks to ensure they are aligned with the new curriculum, and propose development programmes for history teachers.

Shandu called on teachers to contribute by making submissions on how history could be rewritten to tell the country’s history accurately.

“Teachers had difficulty teaching the old history. We are also calling for the task team to consider teaching history in the vernacular,” he said.

The department said the team had conducted research before making its recommendations.

It extended the study to countries such as China, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, and identified areas of weakness and ways to strengthen the curriculum content.

Motshekga said she had faith in the team of experts that would forge the way forward.

Task team leader Professor Sifiso Ndlovu said he believed a comprehensive, well-rounded and accurate teaching of history would help pupils understand themselves better and assist the country in moving forward together.

Vee Gani, chairperson of the South Durban Parents’ Association, said in the past pupils were taught the history of the world. He said as much as it was also important to educate pupils about global history, young people needed to know where they came from to know where they were going.

“A lot of the young people do not know about the history of people like Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela, and as a result they take their own country for granted,” said Gani.

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