Cape Town - Plans are on track to introduce changes to South African schools’ history curriculum which will contribute to nation building.

Delivering her budget speech for 2014/15 in Parliament on Tuesday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said South Africa’s children should be fully aware of its history.

“A country that chooses to hide its heritage and historical footprints from its children takes the risk of having them repeat the mistakes of their predecessors.

“We are currently conducting comparative studies and research on countries offering history as a compulsory subject. Research has shown that as a subject, history has a number of positive effects such as contributing to nation building, national pride, patriotism, social cohesion and cultural heritage.”

Basil Manuel, president of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, said it was healthy to debate the content of the history curriculum.

“We must be teaching the history of modern South Africa but we can’t forget about our past.”

Governing Body Foundation chief executive Tim Gordon said it was positive to look at the curriculum often and make necessary changes.

“I would be very positive about that. People in a country should grow up knowing the history of the country.”

Motshekga’s announcement echoed calls made by the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union.

Last month general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the union had called for the teaching of history to be made compulsory in schools.

Teaching history at schools would allow for current and future generations to “appreciate the road we have travelled as a nation”.

“If we ignore the importance of this subject in schools it will be bad. Being ignorant of the past is nothing short of national disaster. We don’t want to teach learners the collection of the past only but to help them understand the present realities.

“We have a responsibility as an organisation to ensure that current and future generations remain conscious of history and appreciative of the role played by past generations.”

Annette Lovemore, the DA’s spokeswoman on and shadow minister of basic education, said looking at the curriculum was positive but warned against making certain subjects compulsory for all pupils.

“We have to realise that some children are academically strong, some are practically inclined, others are creative spirits. Each individual child’s inherent abilities must be supported to full development.”

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Cape Times