The department of education has finally listened to the youth of this generation. The conversation and debate introduced by the Fees Must Fall protests - which I am proud to have engaged in - has exerted enough pressure on the government to reconsider the overwhelming Eurocentric syllabus.
There is no doubt that history is a critical and integral part in the formulation of self-identity. There can be no self-identity without knowing where we come from, what we have fought for and what our ancestors have died for.
As a young black millennial, I remember history at school was completely dominated by your likes of Jan van Riebeeck, Jan Smuts and Cecil John Rhodes. We never heard of your likes of Ngugi, Tiyo Soga and Edward Mqhayi, African academics and historians that are respected in their own right.
Yes, not all academic content can be solely Africanized. Subjects such as mathematics, science and biology still remain the same, no matter what the context is. However, surely some African academics and intellects have contributed to the development of these subjects.
I fully support the idea of modernizing the syllabus to be more relevant to the African context. However, I must say that making history a compulsory subject can be classified as the department slightly overreaching. Learners should not be forced to study subjects they do not have an interest in, as this kills their motivation.
There is also the proposal to phase out Life Orientation in order to make space for history as a compulsory subject. I urge the department to think carefully before dropping Life Orientation.
Life Orientation is still much-needed to fight the rising problem of teenage pregnancy. The Mayor of Ekurehuleni Mzawandile Masina recently released shocking statistics relating to the increase in teen pregnancies, citing instances where Grade 5 learners are falling victim to “sugar daddy’s” who prey on these vulnerable children.
Now how can this objective of Africanization of the syllabus be implemented?
I suggest that history must not be the only subject subjected to reform. English should also include African Literature and African poetry. This will challenge young learners both black and white to understand and learn about issues such as race, gender and culture, issues that still challenge our society.
I therefore hope and challenge the department of education that this is not just rhetoric. That this will bring about real academic change in order to break the colonial learnings of the past.
* Luthando Kolwapi is a political commentator.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.