Higher learning institutions urged to consider civic education

Friday, July 21, 2023

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has called upon students and staff members in higher learning institutions, to consider the value proposition that HIGHER HEALTH’s co-curriculum is bringing to the development of the country.

Nzimande made the call when he was unveiling the National Civic Education and Health Skills Programme at the Tshwane North TVET College Mamelodi Campus on Thursday.

The National Civic Education and Health Skills Programme will, for the first time, see young people participating in the programme, have a recognised certificate affirming their readiness to play a role in improving their communities and building the nation.

Nzimande noted that it is the first time that a civic education skills programme has attained a nationally recognised accreditation in South Africa and Africa in general.

This was through a collaboration effort between the department’s entities, including HIGHER HEALTH, Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), and the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority, that led to the development of the accredited co-curriculum. 

Nzimande explained that the curriculum, to be accredited at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 5, will be available for all students and staff registered in all Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector. Students do not need to be at NQF Level 4 for them to enrol for the course.

The modules to be offered in co-curriculum will include, Civic Education; Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Gender Equality and Diversity, Transforming MENtalities; Mental Health; Disability; Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE); Alcohol and Substance; and Abuse and Building Resilience.

The co-curriculum, which will be offered in all 12 official languages, including Sign Language, is different from any other, because it is based on the interactive participatory pedagogy, centred on the approach of “EACH ONE! TEACH TEN” (Teach at least ten people in your lifetime). 

“The co-curriculum will include top 10 soft skills required by employers, which include active, empathic listening and counselling; civic responsibility; conflict resolution; creativity; decision making; digital literacy; presentation skills; public speaking; teamwork; organisational and leadership skills; as well as time-management.

“It is this kind of innovation, and the social transformation that comes with it that will contribute to the overall process of building good citizenship in our country. This unique co-curriculum will instil the values of respect and compassion for one another, community building, volunteerism and unshakeable commitment to advancing social causes,” Nzimande said. 

Building strong democratic institutions

The Minister also highlighted that one of the greatest benefits of this civic education co-curriculum is to contribute towards voter education amongst the youth.

With South Africa’s youth accounting for more than 20.6 million of the population, Nzimande said, increasing their civic involvement and political participation is crucial to building an inclusive society and strong democratic institutions.

“For South Africa’s political system to be representative, all parts of society must be included. When young people are disenfranchised or disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect them.

“This is amongst the reasons that this co-curriculum has been designed to tackle a wide range of health, mental and social challenges facing our youth today,” Nzimande said. 

He added that through the curriculum, issues of GBV within the PSET sector, will be able to be addressed, and the module that deals with issues around gender issues, will be aimed at transforming MENtalities, by raising awareness about the role of men in changing their own attitudes and ending GBV.

“Our module on mental health will be an appropriate response to the reality that one in five young South Africans in higher education suffer from moderate to severe mental health issues, according to the World Health Organisation.

“Soon, we will be including to our curriculum, issues of climate change. This module will be included to address the dire need to counter the disastrous impact of climate change such as floods, fire and famine that devastate regions hit by unprecedented adverse weather patterns,” Nzimande said. – SAnews.gov.za