By Nomali Cele
Education innovation does not just mean bringing gadgets into the classroom or merely teaching children to code as early as possible. Innovating education is also changing what is being taught and how teaching and learning happens.
Recently, the Department of Basic Education, led by minister Angie Motshekga, announced that history should be made a compulsory subject throughout learners’ schooling. This had been in the works from 2015 and is said to roll out at the beginning of the 2023 academic year. This move will be an aspect of education innovation.
Currently, learners have social sciences, which touches on history in places, from grade four until grade nine. After they’ve chosen their stream for grades 10 to 12, the only learners who study history are those who have selected a humanities stream for the rest of their high school years.
According to Education Professor, Linda Chisholm, this is not going to be an easy feat for the Basic Education Department to achieve because, for one, there aren’t enough education teachers. Writing in The Conversation, Professor Chisholm writes, “Without additional resources to train new teachers, the risk is that unqualified staff will be used and the quality of preparation will become poorer than it already is.”
The department and Minister Motshekga played closed cards when it comes to how exactly this sweeping change will be carried out. But it’s not hard to see the appeal of an Afrocentric history curriculum. If done right, the move could be innovative.
What other innovations are happening around the world?
Barbados, the West Indies country mostly known for birthing pop music sensation Rihanna, has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, which is estimated at 98%. Another interesting about the island nation’s approach to education is how their ministries are structured. Education isn’t its own department but falls under the collective Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.
In 2013, UNICEF found that children in the Netherlands are the happiest in the world, much of which is attributed to the lack of stress from school. Intrigued? Well, the Dutch education system doesn’t give much homework to learners in the lower primary school grades. Children in the Netherlands were also found to not experience as much school-related pressure and anxiety.
Parents of children of school-going age know how frustrating and tedious homework time can be and doing homework every weekday evening takes away other more fun opportunities to learn. So instead of sitting over their exercise books for hours every evening, children in The Netherlands are presumably having family time, playing, reading for leisure and going to bed unstressed. The latter definitely makes for a more relaxed child.
Most parents would say they want their children to have a competitive edge for their future – hence the laundry list of extracurricular activities. Fostering a competitive spirit in children can be good but in most cases, the benefits aren’t worth the constant stress from a young age.
Finland has an education system that’s considered to be one of the most unorthodox in the world. For one, when children start school (strictly at seven years old!) and for five more years, the teacher is trusted to judge their performance without a need for marks. Finnish education innovation doesn’t end there. In lower primary, every hour teaching hour of the five-hour school day is cut by 15 minutes to allow the learners time outside after the lesson. Other noteworthy dispatches from the innovative education system in Finland is the fact that daycare and pre-school are free.
As a parent, what kind of education innovation appeals to you? Is it the easy-going model that makes for a happier child or is it the technology skills driven kind? Tweet us using #KayaOnline and tag @KayaFM95dot9