Teach more history to ‘make SA patriotic’

2014-06-24 00:00

THE SA Democratic Teachers’ Union has called for history to be a compulsory subject in secondary schools and for an “over-emphasis” on South African aspects.

“As human beings living today, our present and future gets determined by our yesterday,” Nkosana Dolopi, Sadtu deputy general secretary, told The Witness yesterday.

“What we are today is a result of the past,” he said, adding that as a country we need to chart “a way forward with an appreciation of our past”.

Dolopi said history should be taught that didn’t just deal with events but with the “heroes and heroines we must celebrate”.

Dolopi said history should be a compulsory subject as it was about “building a nation”.

“It is good for us learn about the culture of the different groups of people we co-exist with — such as the Afrikaners. This is so that we can respect them more.”

A knowledge of history was also about building patriotism, according to Dolopi, who added that the creation of a 20- year-old democracy was “real achievement”, one brought about via “the blood, sweat and lives of our people”.

“Americans are so patriotic because their history gets taught everywhere,” he said. “We need to be able to sing our national anthem with pride.”

Currently the history curriculum for Grades 10 to 12 devotes the bulk of the term courses to South African history, including the struggle and liberation era and the coming of democracy.

Dolopi said Sadtu wanted even more time afforded to the teaching of South African and African history. There should be an “over-emphasis” on it, he said.

“We need to look at the contribution of the Khoisan, at the African Stone Age period; we need to look at what happened prior to 1652.”

While education analyst Graeme Bloch disagreed with Sadtu on history being taught as a compulsory subject — “nothing should be compulsory” — he encouraged a teaching of history that built unity. “It’s not about blaming any one. The main issue is about how do we build a common history? Teachers need to ask that question — and it’s good that they are asking it.”

Dolopi said Sadtu were planning to meet Basic Education Minister Angie Motshega to present their ideas on the teaching of history.

No meeting has been scheduled as yet, he said.

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