Our curriculum consternation
24 July 2019 | Columns
The new curriculum has not only been criticised by outsiders, but teachers and senior education officials have also expressed concerns about the changes, including challenges around implementation. Government last year abolished external grade 10 examinations, meaning grade 9 learners will now write semi-external exams, while grade 10 forms part of the senior secondary phase. Secondary school is now divided into three phases, the junior secondary phase comprised of grades 8 and 9, the senior secondary phase comprised of grades 10 and 11 and the grade 12 advanced subsidiary level. More than 100 junior secondary schools across the country will be upgraded to senior secondary level, which means they will have to take in grade 11 learners in 2020. For a nation that is grappling with serious education challenges, a dynamic and responsive curriculum development and education process is necessary for the advancement of our society. However, teething problems such as funding are critical in any curriculum development process. The new curriculum requires that extra classrooms and teachers would be needed, as well as proper hostel facilities to accommodate learners. Given our precarious financial situation, it is almost certain that these problems will not be addressed in the current financial year, let alone in the next fiscal period, if the words of finance minister Calle Schlettwein are anything to go by. Similarly, it is ultra-disappointing that even though government should be commended for analysing the curriculum and evaluating it to make it easier for learners to access technical or vocational training opportunities at an early age, the current challenges do not inspire hope, considering that many other issues may arise during the different phases of implementation. It also remains to be seen whether the concept of inclusive education will be realised, given the mess surrounding the current implementation. We are indeed toying with our nation's future.