The Department of Basic Education says it will introduce as many as 38 new subjects to schools in the next few years, targeting learners in grades 10 to 12 as part of its new ‘three stream’ curriculum.

The department intends for the subjects and the curriculum model to be fully implemented by 2025.

Speaking to NewzroomAfrika on the coming changes, the education department’s chief director for mathematics and science, Seliki Tlhabane, said that the whole aim behind the three-stream model is to help learners get a better education and into jobs.

Under the current system, which the department calls the academic stream, the simple goal is to get learners through matric and into universities or other institutions of higher learning.

He said because of the focus on academics, technical or vocational skills had gained the reputation of being “lesser” than academic pursuits in South Africa, but added that these kinds of jobs delivered real value to society and helped artisans earn a livelihood.

Tlhabane said that the various Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in the country possess the necessary skills and knowledge to educate learners in these fields.

“One of the challenges might point to children who are going into the TVET space – those that society views as children who failed academically. We want to change this perception that TVET colleges and technical high schools are for children who are not intelligent.

“Children who are bright students can still follow these programmes, and once we get the right calibre of students to follow these programmes, we will be able to address this problem.”

Through the programme, the department will add 26 new subjects under the occupational stream and 12 new subjects in the vocational stream that will be offered to learners leaving grade 9 to set them on a path of education and employment.

The new curriculum streams feed into the department’s launch of the General Education Certificate – to be trialled this year (2022), with a full rollout expected by 2024.

The GEC will be granted to grade 9 learners as a transitionary certificate to allow them to pursue occupational and vocational training.

The three-stream model has been trialled in various capacities across the country since 2017 and entered the ordinary school trial phase in 2021.

Some of the occupational subjects that have already been trialled include:

  • Agricultural Studies
  • Beauty and Nail Technology
  • Art and Crafts
  • Ancillary Health Care
  • Office Administration
  • Upholstery
  • Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  • Maintenance
  • Motor Mechanics
  • Food Production
  • Body Works/ Panel Beating and or Spray Painting
  • Needlework
  • Welding
  • Hospitality Studies
  • Sheet metal work
  • Wholesale and Retail
  • Electrical Technology
  • Bricklaying and Plastering
  • Woodworking and Timber
  • Plumbing
  • Hairdressing

Some of the prominent vocational subjects include:

  • Agricultural Studies
  • Art and Design
  • Digital Technology
  • ECD
  • Mechanical Technology
  • Electrical Technology (Digital, Electronics and Electrical)
  • Civil Technology
  • Hairdressing and Beauty
  • Ancillary Health Care
  • Services: Maintenance and Upholstery
  • Consumer Studies
  • Hospitality Studies
  • Wholesale and Retail Studies

Tlhabane said the difference between the occupational stream and the vocational stream is the amount of practical work that learners have to complete.

For academic subjects, practical work is very minimum, he said. With vocational studies, at least 50% of the study time is doing practical work, with 50% being theory.

“When it comes to the occupational stream, about 75% is practical, and 25% is theory,” he said.

The key aspect of the occupational stream is work-based experience, he said, where children in this stream will be attached to a place of work where they will be supervised by professionals and acquire the real world of work experience.

“For vocational studies, just the theory and the practical suffices,” he said. The subjects will be implemented in grade 10 to 12 fully by 2025.

Read: School curriculum changes to boost jobs in South Africa: minister