South Africa’s opposition parties have come out with conflicting views on allowing History to be a compulsory subject in schools.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga drew criticism and praise for defending the move, which she says aims to contribute to the country’s unity and nation building.
The ministerial task team appointed to conduct a comparative case study has made the recommendation that all pupils from grades ten to twelve learn history from 2023.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said in a statement on Friday that it welcomed the task team’s recommendation.
“For too long, little attention has been paid to our history which made the learners to not fully understand the context in which they live. This will not only help breed patriotic generations of young people, but also an informed people about their past,” said the EFF.
The party hoped that the curriculum would be balanced and that it would restore the dignity of people, particularly by telling black people’s stories.
The EFF said “it must be a decolonized history that manages to restore a sense of pride in a black child”.
The party called on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to speed up the implementation phase and to ensure that History teachers were impartial and “trained professionals”.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it failed to see how the DBE’s decision to make History compulsory in schools would address what it thought was the biggest challenge in basic education – preparing learners for the workplace and making sure that they have the skills to be competitive in the job market once they graduate.
The DA stated that it has always supported History being a compulsory subject up until Grade 9, in recognition of the importance of the subject and the need for the youth to be educated about the country’s complicated and often painful past.
“We agree with Minister Motshekga that History should … enable learners … to engage critically with the truths of colonialism, apartheid, and the liberation struggle,” said the DA.
The DA said the committee’s report was comprehensive and voluminous, and said the party would study its findings and recommendations.