By Dumezweni Ndweni

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga in 2015 and her department appointed a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to study, research and observe compressively, compulsory history in 13 countries and make recommendations to the basic education department about history becoming a compulsory subject and replacing life orientation (LO). In 2018 which is three years after the MTT was tasked with the case study, their report and findings were released, and the MTT recommended that it should be introduced as a compulsory subject between grade 10 and 12, which will replace compulsory LO that will only remain compulsory till grade 9.

The MTT suggested that the process of phasing in history should be between 2023 and 2025.  The change in curriculum will bring a lot of changes and one of those changes being time spent doing theoretical work. ‘’ That will also come with changes in terms of time spent in the classrooms by learners as it will increase from 27,5 hours to 29,5 hours per week’’ wrote Amil Umraw for the Huffingtonpost.

Adding an extra exam paper

The compulsory history will then make matriculants to write two additional final exam papers. It is suggested that paper one will be African History and paper two will focus much on international. Many have suggested that the history taught in our schools should be upgraded and that we need to teach more African.

Many argued that SA learners know more about European history more than that of Africa. Southern Africa is one country that has a rich history but for now the history taught is just brushing the surface it does not go deeper and research and teach actual African story. 

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‘The minister of Basic education is of the opinion that African history should take centre stage and in South Africa include all tribes and will give people a sense of belonging and know their roots. The minister said that the current history being taught touches on pieces of everything including the country’s struggle for freedom, the stone and wars but a great deal of history is not taught.

Diverse country with a diverse story

‘’But there are also parts of who we are left out, for instance if you teach the history of land wars, you really are teaching the history of Zulus, Xhosas and Sothos. And other tribal groups don’t belong we don’t know where Vendas fit in within the history of South Africa,’’ minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.

Others are of the opinion that the history being taught is one sided and still have some apartheid education system influences. ‘’There are elements of apartheid propaganda that were taught and carried forward in our school to this day. For example when they teach you about communism, they are not teaching you about the role that was played by leaders of the Communist Party in South Africa and the party itself towards the liberation of our country and the establishment of the democracy that we have,’’ Alex Mashilo SACP spokesperson speaking to Ray White on the Midday report on 702. 

Life Orientation or History?

With the minister of Basic Education hoping to create an Afro centric perspective in history taught in schools, we asked our readers for their views on the compulsory history vs life orientation. Which one should be top priority for learners in our schools? It recommended that the department use the next five years to build the curriculum.

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Neo Ramukuvhati:

Well people need to know where they come from, history is important in shaping one’s perspective in life, teaching us what works and what doesn’t. That way we know how to evolve to become better species. It helps us correct our past mistakes, learn what should not be repeated and so forth. Your past is a part of you no matter what whether it happened before your time or not.

They should have both subjects actually, I am saying both should be compulsory because LO on the other hand is teaching us about ourselves, how to best take care of self, others and surroundings the basic conducts and etiquette in life which is important. I would go with LO because I am not too concerned about things of the past. Kodwa it’s of paramount importance that we know both though.

Themba Mndebele:

Yes history will be important to be taught from grade 10 to 12. For the growing generation to know African history and grow with it not losing the African customs and morals. Also retrieve the dignity of Africans.

Paballo Majela:

Yes, there is nothing we learning in LO and is just general knowledge and when it comes to compulsory history is a must to know it, because in years to come our next generation will be blank about roots and the land will be taken.

Mazisa Radebe:

Yes because when you are studying from grade 10 – 12 you already know what you want and what you wanna do in life and mostly LO teaches life skills that they should teach youngsters and learning from grade 7 to 9 and there are people who don’t know a lot about the history of the country and about other factors from history such as how things were shaped to be what they are today.

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Nokuthula Vilakazi:

I feel like both subjects are important in their different ways and should be taught compulsory.

Kamogelo Makola:

If LO is replaced by history will our kids learn about South African history not how the Americans were able to get through the great depression.

Keletso Mofokeng:

Both subjects are important why replace the other? It’s still a disservice.