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New education minister to change the curriculum?

New education minister Siviwe Gwarube plans a comprehensive curriculum review involving setting up a consultative forum to assist with the review.

Forum to conduct an extensive curriculum review

After 15 years, South Africa has a new Minister of Basic Education, Siviwe Gwarube. Her portfolio is arguably one of the most challenging portfolios in the new administration.

She plans to establish a consultative forum to conduct a comprehensive review of the current school curriculum. The forum will include representatives from the education sector, trade unions, school governing bodies, and other relevant stakeholders, as reported by Business Day.

In an interview with Business Day, the new education minister stated that the establishment of a consultative body is provided for in legislation. Additionally, she stated that it is something she intends to initiate promptly. The forum will examine the education system including the curriculum. It will also establish terms of reference and time frames, and ultimately produce a report with recommendations.

Issues in the SA school system

Nelda Mouton from North-West University stated in an academic paper that the education system ‘is flawed, with poorly performing teachers, poor work ethics, lack of community and parental support, poor control by education authorities, insufficient support for teachers and very low levels of accountability’. As a result, there is a widespread lack of discipline among learners and brutal violence in schools. Furthermore, many schools experience high rates of absenteeism, tardiness, and dropouts.

A new report from the 2030 Reading Panel revealed alarming trends. There is a significant decline in basic literacy among children in South Africa. Many children complete Grade 1 without knowing alphabets, and a staggering 82% of Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. This draws attention to the curriculum.

Gwarube’s plans to improve education system

The new education minister outlined her vision for the department in a statement. Gwarube emphasised urgent reforms to address critical issues in the education system, as reported by IOL.

She highlighted several key areas of focus, including reviewing the curriculum, literacy and numeracy, and overall improvement of standards of education. She also mentioned the eradication of pit toilets.

Gwarube said she will work with her cabinet colleagues to address the issue of unsafe pit toilets in schools. This is particularly a problem in provinces like the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

“If we are going to raise a generation of children who are going to be primed for future economies, we need to get literacy and numeracy right, and we need to get it right urgently.”

Minister of Basic Education, Siviwe Gwarube

She emphasised the need for structured pedagogical interventions to improve foundational skills among South African students. Also, she mentioned her commitment to addressing these challenges effectively.

The education minister’s goal is basically to create a world-class education system through collaboration with cabinet colleagues and stakeholders to implement comprehensive reforms.

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