The DA has taken note of the Report of the History Ministerial Task Team (MTT), released by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) yesterday. The report is comprehensive and voluminous, and we look forward to studying its findings and recommendations.
However, of current concern is the proposal that History be made a compulsory subject until Grade 12.
The DA has always supported History being a compulsory subject up until Grade 9 in recognition of the importance of the subject and the need for our youth to be educated about our 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”.
However, we fail to see how this decision by the DBE addresses the biggest challenge in basic education today, namely preparing our learners for the world of work and making sure they have the necessary skills to be competitive in the jobs market once they graduate.
History is vital in producing learners who have a good understanding of South Africa and the world. However, even if History replaces Life Orientation as a compulsory subject until Grade 12, learners are still faced with the problem of leaving school without being prepared for a very competitive and tough job market.
It is important that young people are best placed and prepared for the world of work. With close to 10 million unemployed people in South Africa, the DBE must be seized with solutions to this crisis. The only way we can begin to undo the injustices of Apartheid is to ensure that learners eventually become active participants of the formal economy.