Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Umalusi chief executive officer, wants Life Orientation to be recognised and included in the points system required for university entry. 
Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency/ANA
Durban - Life Orientation (LO) is a subject every pupil has to take until Grade 12, but it is not recognised and included in the points system required for university entry.

Umalusi, the quality assurance body, wants to change that.

It is being championed by Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Umalusi chief executive officer, after a motion to make the subject university credited was tabled by principals during the Principals Conference in Durban last week.

Rakometsi said while Umalusi recognised the work of teachers who taught the subject, it was still a challenge to get universities to recognise it.

“We are working at ways of improving its content. The question we asked ourselves was whether LO was contributing positively to address the social ills our society faces, and the answer has been yes.

“We have to establish ways to improve the subject so that it carries the same weight as other subjects. Over the years, we have added more and more content, but universities are still not satisfied with this subject,” said Rakometsi.

He said Umalusi was convinced that LO was an important subject that needed to continue to Grade 12 because it taught important values. It also covered the importance of physical health and assisted pupils to choose their subjects and careers wisely.

Currently, all the marks allocated to LO came from school-based assessments of assignments and projects. There were no written exams.

Professor Labby Ramrathan, UKZN director of the School of Education Studies, said universities were still struggling to make a clear relationship between the subject and what value it carried at university level.

“The subject has no real material value and should not be part of the curriculum beyond Grade 9.

“Most universities do not recognise it for the obvious reasons. It is useless and has no impact on what is being studied at institutions of higher learning.

“I admit that the subject is useful in the foundation and intermediate phases of education where pupils are still learning to understand life, who they are and what is expected of them, but that is where it should end,” said Ramrathan.

He said when it came to Grades 11 and 12, LO took up space in the curriculum that could instead be used for other core subjects.

Bheki Hlophe, Mangosuthu University of Technology spokesperson, said while none of the universities recognised the subject, it would be a good move to improve its content to make it relevant to higher learning because pupils spent a lot of time to score the marks.

He said pupils were made aware that although they must pass the subject in matric, it would not help them in gaining entry at universities.

Noxolo Bhengu, a medical student at UKZN, said LO was not needed to gain access to a number of fields including medicine.

She said the subject carried important value in preparing young people for the future.

“I believe that LO is important and it has helped me understand life better and to make good life and career choices. I believe that it needs to stay on in the school curriculum,” said Bhengu.

Allen Thompson, deputy president of the National Teachers’ Union, said their recent conference had proposed that Umalusi should establish a ministerial committee between the departments of Basic and Higher Education to investigate what needed to be done.

“It should stay, but teachers should not spend the whole year teaching something for nothing,” he said.

Vee Gani, chairperson of the South Durban KZN Parents’ Association, said it would be unfair to shape the school curriculum to satisfy university requirements when only a few qualified for, and could afford, university education. The skills taught in LO were able to help a large number of the youth find ways to make a living.

“The reality is that the majority of people are living under the poverty line. Universities probably do not take LO seriously because it is assessment-based, and although it is true that it does not carry the same weight as subjects with exams, I believe that it should stay,” said Gani.

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