New school subjects planned for South Africa
The Department of Arts and Culture plans to formally introduce more cultural subjects to the school curriculum as a way of encouraging interest and development in the sector.
The proposals are included in a new Theatre and Dance policy document which was gazetted for public comment on Friday (1 July). While drama has formed a key role at South African schools for decades, it is hoped that the formal introduction of new subjects and curriculums will lead to more job pathways in the sector.
“Dance and theatre are to be integrated into the curriculum at primary and secondary school levels both for vocational purposes and in order for learners to benefit from the cognitive, creative and problem-solving skills that engagement in the arts enhances,” the department said.
“There must be at least one publicly-funded tertiary education and training institution/department teaching theatre and dance, in each province that provides certificate, diploma and undergraduate courses for practitioners as well as educators, producers, technicians, designers, administrators and entrepreneurs in the dance and theatre sector.”
Other proposals in the document include:
- All tertiary institutions that provide training for dance and theatre practitioners, must include in their training an arts administration/management foundation module that covers areas such as cultural policy, entrepreneurship (marketing, raising capital, financial management, budgeting, etc) and the rights of artists.
- Monitoring the implementation of Arts Education curriculum in all schools and grades to ensure that such education is delivered by qualified arts practitioners,
- Each year, a minimum of ten administrators/entrepreneurs under the age of 35 be identified through an open, competitive process, with at least 50% being women; that they be placed with ten of the country’s leading arts administrators for at least a twelvemonth period to be mentored by them, to acquire hands-on experience, with both the mentors and mentees being paid stipends.
- Through open and competitive processes, at least ten directors and ten choreographers be identified annually, and be provided with stipends to work with, and/or observe the country’s established directors, playwrights and choreographers over a 12-month period.
- Playwriting courses be offered in each province annually, with selected writers – particularly those under 35 – in each province being mentored by an experienced playwright (remotely over email and zoom-type technology if necessary).
- Annually, technical training courses with a number of people proportionate to provincial populations being trained in the technical aspects of theatre and dance production, and being provided with opportunities to acquire practical experience at the country’s festivals and theatres.
- Annual online and physical courses for arts critics (including dance and theatre critics) be offered, with mentors working with selected new critics over a year-long period.
The Department of Basic Education has already announced that it plans to introduce several new school subjects to the curriculum in the coming year.
In its 2022/2023 annual performance plan published in March, the department said this will include full-scale implementation of coding and robotics for Grade R-3 and 7 in the 2023 academic year.
A pilot curriculum for these subjects was initially introduced at some schools in the third term of the 2021 academic year, it said. It plans to expand these tech-focused subjects to other grades in subsequent years.
“The coding and robotics pilot for Grades 4-6 and for Grades 8 is planned for 2022 and will be followed by a Grade 9 pilot in 2023. The full-scale implementation for Grades 4-6 and Grade 8 is planned for 2024, and Grade 9 in 2025,” the department said.
“As coding and robotics is a new initiative, the focus will be on the upskilling of teachers to be trained to teach this new subject in collaboration with higher education institutions.”
The department said that the new subjects form part of a broader push to better prepare South African students for the working world.
“Future careers require people with digital skills that will equip and enable them to function effectively in a digital era. The continued implementation on the teaching of coding and robotics will equip and expose learners to digital literacy, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things,” it said.
“The sector notes that the future requires individuals who will be able to build robots and other sophisticated machines and to develop algorithms to code these machines.”