The Minister of Basic Education has received an interim report into the evaluation of learning and teaching materials, particularly textbooks that is used in our schools.
The Minister established a Task Team (MTT) in February 2016 to ascertain whether the text and illustrations (pictorial and otherwise) used by authors and publishers in textbooks are inclusive, sensitive, and promote the values of unity in our diversity, democracy as well as equity, and empower our learners for the future.
The MTT also conducted a content analysis to ascertain the specific discrimination biases, frequency and type of such discrimination, as well as examined the extent to which different forms of discrimination manifests itself in South African textbooks. The content analysis focused on biases which could be associated with race, gender, class, religion, disability, sexual orientation, family status, and age.
One of the interim findings of the MTT is that textbooks, generally adopt a mildly inclusive approach to diversity. For instance, while there are no obvious potential forms of discrimination with regard to race, and there is certainly an overriding focus on representing the African subject, there remains an abiding mono-racial attitude towards what families, communities, and societies look like. Also, when it comes to languages, race becomes a key descriptor.
The work of the Ministerial Task Team is aimed at eradicating social, economic and political stereotypes especially in the classroom. The department does not allow for a teaching and learning environment where individuals or organizations are misrepresented and/or ridiculed.
While the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) clearly outlines what should be taught in schools, some teachers have however been found to have overstepped the boundaries. Where such incidents have taken place, such teachers using racial slurs on others, swift action has been taken against the implicated teachers. It must be stressed that where such isolated incidents have taken place, these do not arise as a result of a defined norm or practice of a particular school, nor a dictate from the CAPS. It is rather individual teachers who tend to do so, hence the swift action against such individual teachers.
It is important to remind South Africans that the CAPS is based on the principles of social transformation, ensuring that all ills of apartheid education are redressed, and that equal educational opportunities are made possible for all sections of the population. In this regard, the CAPS promotes knowledge in local contexts, while being sensitive to global imperatives.
The department will continue to monitor the implementation of the curriculum to ensure that all textbook content is consistent with the Constitution of South Africa in all respects. Surely, the work of the MTT will be of great assistance in this regard.
The Minister will receive the final report later this year.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION