Will history be made compulsory throughout high school?
A plan to make history compulsory has been criticised by some who fear the subject will be abused as a political propaganda tool
On Thursday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will release the ministerial task team report into the possibility of introducing history as a compulsory subject in Grades 10, 11 and 12.
At present, pupils take history to Grade 9 and are permitted to drop it in Grade 10.
The plan to make history compulsory has been criticised in some quarters, with some fearing that the subject will be abused as a political propaganda tool, as in Zimbabwe, where the history syllabus in government schools is reportedly biased towards the governing Zanu-PF.
According to the Department of Basic Education: "In 2015, the department hosted the inaugural history roundtable where the ministerial task team, led by Prof Sibusiso Ndlovu, was established and given terms of reference to conduct a comparative international study on how best to implement the introduction of history as a compulsory subject in Further Education and Training (FET) schools.
"The team was also responsible for the review and strengthening of the content of history in the FET and the general education and training bands."
The department said the final report would be released on Thursday morning in Pretoria.
In a written reply to a question from the DA in Parliament in 2017, Motshekga said the ministerial task team appointed to consider the introduction of history as a compulsory subject had completed comparative studies and research on countries that enforced it as a subject.
The task team conducted research on India, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, China, Tanzania, Russia and Brazil, "to add to the international research … that was presented in 2015", Motshekga said. "Furthermore, the team made proposals to strengthen the content of history in the general education and training and further education and training bands."
The minister has previously said teaching history had a number of positive effects, such as contributing to nation building, national pride, patriotism, social cohesion and cultural heritage. The South African Democratic Teachers Union first called for history to be made compulsory in 2014.
The DA said recently that pupils should not be forced to study history to matric. "Not only will this curtail learner choices, it is likely to divert resources away from where they are needed most — in mathematics, the sciences and languages," the party said.