In 5 years, Life Orientation will no longer be compulsory, but History will be
On 31 May the Department of Basic Education announced that, as of 2023, History would be rolled out incrementally as a compulsory subject up until matric. But Life Orientation will be scrapped. Here's the skinny.
Will replacing Life Orientation with History empower our students? (iStock)
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In 2015 the History Ministerial Task Team (MTT) was appointed by Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to do a comparative case study to determine the effect of making History a compulsory subject for high school students. After almost 3 years of deliberation, they’ve decided in favour of the idea, concluding that as of 2023, History should incrementally be rolled out as a compulsory subject.

In the team’s report released on Thursday, 31 May, they emphasised the importance of teaching history from an African perspective, not to rewrite history or benefit the “ruling elites”, but to empower citizens.

Angie Motshekga explained, “History should, by design, enable learners to be active citizens – including being able to engage critically with the truths of colonialism, apartheid, and the liberation struggle. Young people should be empowered with values, attitudes and behaviours that contribute to nation-building, social cohesion and national reconciliation. This kind of knowledge will enable the 21st century generation to comprehend the nexus between global and national citizenship.”

She explained the significance of the theme going forward, which is "re-writing history from an African perspective."

"As the African continent, despite challenges that we face, nonetheless, we have made significant strides moving ourselves through struggle from colonialism to independence from imperial conquerors. Our rich history and heritage ties us together.

"More so, we now know that we have a common ancestry, which was discovered right here in our country, at the Cradle of Humankind. As the eminent politician and revolutionary par excellence Mr. Kwame Nkrumah once proclaimed: 'I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me',” she continued.

“The History curriculum should be relevant not only for the market place, but also for the decolonisation of the African mind.”

Although Life Orientation (LO) is currently a requirement, the team further suggested that Life Orientation should be made away with and replaced with History. So LO will only be compulsory up and until Grade 9, and from Grade 10 until matric, learners would have to take History.

The MTT also suggested that a specific number of hours would have to be allocated to teaching History every week, as well as a specific curriculum. Over the next five years this curriculum is to be structured, but they’ve already suggested a focus on African history and international history, which will make up papers 1 and 2 respectively for learners to write in two additional final year exams.

Do you agree with the Department of Basic Education's decision? Do you think they're making the right decision by getting rid of Life Orientation as a compulsory subject? And how do you feel about them making History compulsory? Do you think it will better inform students and make them active citizens? Send us your comments to chatback@parent24.com and we may publish them on the site. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.

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