19 September 2018


Report recommends that History becomes compulsory 

by: SAnews.gov.za   date: 08 june 2018

A Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report has recommended that History becomes a complulsory school subject and that it should be phased in incrementally from the year 2023 in Grade 10 to 2025 in Grade 12.

The report was presented to Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, last week.

Led by Chairperson, Professor Sifiso Ndlovu, the Task Team was established in 2015 and was given terms of reference to conduct a comparative international study on how best to implement the introduction of History as a compulsory subject in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.

This follows a commitment made by the department during the 2015/16 Budget Speech, to conduct research on the desirability of making History a compulsory subject for all learners.

The Task Team was given a mandate to advise on the feasibility of making History compulsory during the FET phase, advise on where History should be located in the curriculum, review the content and pedagogy of the History curriculum with a view to strengthening History in the curriculum and to investigate the implications of making History a compulsory subject.

Handing over the report, Ndlovu said during provincial consultations with various stakeholders, four scenarios were highlighted, which led to the final recommendations.

Among the scenarios was that if History becomes compulsory from Grades 10 to 12, it will become the fifth fundamental subject regardless of the stream they are registered for.

Another scenario was that if History and Life Orientation (LO) are combined, History content should be transferred to LO to reinforce the teaching of citizenship and human rights, amongst others. 

However, Ndlovu said most people rejected outright the transfer of content from History to reinforce the LO content and syllabus at FET phase.

“They dismissed the idea of five fundamentals at the FET phase,” Ndlovu said.

The report recommended, amongst others, that the LO should be phased out incrementally from the FET curriculum from 2023 in Grade 10 to 2025 in Grade 12.

It further recommended that the Curriculum and Policy Statement (CAPS), due to its serious limitations, be completely overhauled.

“Africa centeredness should become a principle in revising the History content. The six to seven years towards the phasing out of LO in the FET band be used to prepare the system for compulsory History in the FET band. The notional time of four hours per week for teaching History in the FET band must be maintained,” the task team recommended.

Ndlovu also noted that teaching and training should not be the sole responsibility of Basic Education but the responsibility should be carried out in partnerships with universities. 

“We call on all heads of Archaeology, History and the Department of Basic Education to set the ball rolling. It is up to the Minister to reject or accept the recommendation. If she does, then we can start developing guidelines,” Professor Ndlovu said.

Motshekga extended sincere gratitude to task team members for the excellent work done so far, adding that the report had been long awaited by members of the public, academia and interest groups involved in the History Education landscape.

Reclaiming our history

She emphasised that government was in no way attempting to rewrite History for the benefit of the new ruling elites.

“As a principle, we are against the rewriting of History for the sole purpose of achieving a short-term political expediency. All we are doing is to reclaim our history as Africans. Historians rightly conclude that, ‘from a legacy perspective, we tell our stories ourselves and for ourselves, and as a gift, to future generations’.”

No policy changes yet

The Minister emphasised that the acceptance of the report by the department did not constitute any policy changes just yet.

“The report will be presented at the Heads of Education Departments Committee meeting, Council of Education Ministers, the Basic Education Portfolio Committee of the National Assembly and the Select Committee for Education and Recreation in the National Council of Provinces for further consultation and input.

“In addition, public consultations will be held and comments sought from society at large, to guide us towards a History that reflects on all of us. Furthermore, the report should ignite rich, constructive debates and robust discussions in society on the place and importance of History in the school curriculum,” Motshekga said.

The report will be available on the department’s website. Citizens are invited to join the debate and make their voices heard.