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South African government is deciding on new subjects.

Reference: Published by Staff Writer, 9 May 2023

As it begins to complete the reform of these curricula for promulgation into the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), the Department of Basic Education claims that it is still designing the curricula for new courses, such as robotics and coding.

The only complete and succinct policy document governing South Africa’s educational system is called CAPS.

According to the department’s annual performance plan for 2023–2024, some of the updated curricula’s components are already being developed and will soon be implemented more widely.

In order to better prepare students for the 21st century, a number of new “next-gen” disciplines are being tested in South Africa with a primary concentration on coding and robotics.

Two schools in each province are currently testing the subjects in 18 schools around the country.

In 2022, the pilot for Grades 4 through 6 and 8 went into effect, and in 2023, the pilot for Grade 9 did as well. Coding and robotics will be fully integrated into the curricula for Grades 4 through 6 and Grade 8 in 2024, and Grade 9 students will follow suit in 2025.

The so-called “fourth industrial revolution,” or 4IR, has, according to the department, made it necessary to take a deeper look at the skills that may help make sure that young people in South Africa are “equipped with such skills and become productive citizens in all sectors of the economy.”

Such a transition necessitates the strict application of new disciplines, such as robotics, coding, machine learning, nanotechnology, 3D printing, genetics, and biotechnology, among others.

“While it is noted that the Department of Basic Education has started to do exciting work in this area, it needs to be noted that more still needs to be done,” the report stated.

This has to do with better preparing schools to handle these topics and training teachers to be able to teach them. These programs have, so far, primarily focused on coding and robotics.

The department stated that it does not have any plans to increase the scope of the robotics and coding pilot project for 2023–2024, with the same 18 schools continuing to serve as its primary beneficiaries.

It claimed that the CAPS for Occupational Subjects for Grades 8 and 9 and the Coding and Robotics Curriculum for Grades R-3 and 7 have been designed and submitted to Umalusi for evaluation and quality assurance.

This evaluation and quality assurance process is ongoing, and this includes evaluating the feedback from the public.

Over the medium term, the department will provide ICT equipment, machinery, subject-specific resources, and teacher development to schools annually in order to support schools and increase learner participation and success rates in Mathematics, Science, and Technology – including the new coding and robotics subjects – by:

  • Providing computer gear and associated software for 485 schools, including those participating in the coding and robotics pilot project, in compliance with the minimal requirements outlined in the curriculum assessment policy statement;
  • Repair, upkeep, or replacement of workshop gear and equipment for 232 technical schools’ technology courses;
  • Providing money to 232 schools so they can maintain their machines and equipment;
  • Supplying 1,256 schools with lab supplies, tools, and equipment, as well as math manipulatives;
  • Supporting 50,000 students in co-curricular math, science, and technology services;
  • Supporting 1,000 teachers in organized teacher development programs with a focus on mathematics, science, and technology; and Supporting 1,500 teachers and subject advisers in curriculum assessment policy statement training.

The department’s initiatives to increase students’ reading and comprehension of text will also be supported by the emphasis on coding and robotics.

The agency stated that in addition to monitoring the pilot schools and the schools getting ICT equipment to ensure the projects stay on track, it will also assist teacher education in these subjects through bursary programs.

Over the course of the period, the department will also pilot occupational and vocational subjects at schools, similar to the coding and robotics pilots.

Over the previous few years, the department has published 35 occupational and vocationally oriented themes for public discussion. Following the gazette, these subjects were given to Umalusi in 2021 for evaluation and quality control.

The agency reported that after receiving public feedback, it included it into the CAPS and used it to create learner books and teacher guides.

The DBE added a new FET-level occupational subject called Marine Sciences to the list of occupational subjects. The first cohort of students pursuing this subject took the Marine Sciences portion of the inaugural NSC test.