New curriculum to focus on depth, content knowledge

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pretoria - The new National Curriculum Statement (NCS) is set to put emphasis on depth and content knowledge as opposed to a focus on skills and attitude that learners had to master in the past.

Addressing the media on the progress regarding the implementation of the new NCS following its review in 2009, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements will repackage the existing curriculum into the general aims of the South African curriculum.

Motshekga explained that with the new NCS, the specific aims of each subject clearly delineated topics to be covered per term and the required number and type of assessments also per term.

"In this way, outcomes will be absorbed into more accessible aims and content and assessment requirements will be spelt out more clearly. Topics and assessments to be covered per term are being aligned to available time allocations per subject," she explained.

Also in the new NCS, from 2011, all learning areas and programmes will be called subjects across the curriculum from Grade R - 12.

As per recommendations by the Review Committee, the number of learning areas in the intermediate phase will be reduced from eight to six, meaning that Grades 4 to 6 technology will be combined with science. Arts and culture will be combined with life orientation and economic and management sciences will be taught only from Grade 7.

Furthermore, as from 2011, the language chosen by the learner as a language of learning and teaching shall be taught as a subject or as a First Additional Language from Grade 1 and not Grade 2, as is currently the case.

"This means that the teaching of English will occur alongside mother tongue instruction for those learners who choose English as a language of learning and teaching. It will not replace the mother tongue or home language, as some commentators have interpreted the recommendation," Motshekga explained.

Motshekga reported that the Council of Education Ministers' has agreed to regular, externally set assessment at Grades 3, 6 and 9 in literacy (home language and first additional language) and numeracy/mathematics.

"It agreed on a weighting of continuous assessment and end of year examinations."

Continuous assessment will account for 100 percent of the mark in Grades R-3. In Grades 4-6, 75 percent of the mark will be allocated to continuous assessment and 25 percent to the end of year exam whilst in Grades 7-9, 40 percent of the mark will be allocated to continuous assessment and 60 percent to the end of year exam.

In Grades 10-12, 25 percent of the mark will go to continuous assessment and 75 percent to the end of year exam.

Motshekga added that the symbols or rating scales used to rate learners performance in Grades 10-12 will from 2011 be extended to Grades R-9 so that there is consistency across the curriculum.

She noted that the Council of Education Ministers' had investigated the implementation implications and confirmed that this can be done without destabilising the system and is in the interest of teaching and learning.

"Mindful of the need for teacher orientation and development of appropriate textbooks and learning and teaching support materials, we will start phasing in the Curriculum Policy Statements in the Foundation Phase in 2011. We will phase in other grades in 2012 so that we can make the necessary preparations," the minister said.