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Out with LO, in with compulsory history

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga says there is no attempt to rewrite history to benefit the ANC./Thulani Mbele
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga says there is no attempt to rewrite history to benefit the ANC./Thulani Mbele

Life Orientation looks set to make way for History as a compulsory subject from Grade 10 to 12.

This was announced by a task team appointed by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga to look into whether History needed to be made a compulsory subject at high school level.

The report comes three years after the department hosted the inaugural history round-table, where the team was asked with conducting a comparative international study on how best to implement the introduction of
history as a compulsory subject in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase.

Presenting key recommendations, Professor Sibusiso Ndlovu, who led the team, said they had consultation workshops in nine provinces.

"In Gauteng they said there was a need to separate history from geography from Grade 4 and address the content overload as teachers cannot complete the syllabus," he said.

"History and geography teachers are not skilled enough to teach both subjects."

The task team undertook a comparative case study on compulsory history in 13 countries.

Ndlovu said the final recommendations were based on four scenarios, and the team recommended a scenario where if history becomes compulsory in grades 10 to 12 it should replace life orientation.

"Life orientation [LO] has to remain compulsory until Grade 9 and the content should be strengthened. LO should be phased-out of the FET curriculum from 2023 to 2025," Ndlovu said.

"History trainee teachers should be included in Funza Lushaka bursary scheme to increase teacher capacity."

The scheme helps financially disadvantaged students who intend on studying in the Education sector, who would ultimately give back to the community by teaching at public schools.

Professor Sekibakiba Lekgoathi, who was also part of the team, said Africa had its own history long before the arrival of Europeans.

"They did not come to a dead continent. We suggest that history at Grade 10 should start from the year 700AD.

"There is also a call to bring back archaeology to enable a more African-centred approach to the history curriculum. ," he said.

In Limpopo, Ndlovu said, the task team was told that history should be compulsory at FET phase.

Ndlovu said the notional time in grades 10 to 12 should be increased from 27.5 hours to 29.5 hours per week.

Motshekga emphasised that the department is in no way attempting to rewrite history for the benefit of the ANC.

"All we are doing is to reclaim our history as Africans. Young Africans should be taught to develop a sense of pride in their heritage to boost their self-esteem and confidence."

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