IN the coming months, Grade 9s will choose which subjects to pursue during their final school years, on which they will be tested when they sit for their matric exams.
And while the Department of Basic Education recently announced the withdrawal of the “designated subject” list – the list of subjects from which pupils who want to pursue a degree after school have had to select their subjects – there are some serious considerations not to be ignored, an expert says.
“Some may argue that the withdrawal of the designed subject list gives young people more choices, but we urge schools and pupils not to make risky and uninformed changes,” said Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education.
She says that the original list contained many of the traditional subjects used to gain access to university, and that many of these subjects require pupils to master skills that are important when seeking higher education. “These skills include argumentation and reasoning, found in subjects such as history, logic and mathematics, and evidence and scientific reasoning skills, as found in physical science and life sciences.
“Additionally, the two-language requirement also ensured a well-rounded educational experience for pupils living in a multilingual country.
“Pupils are encouraged not to put together a collection of subjects that are all of one type which will result in them developing less-holistic academic skills. The impact on their studies later in life will be real,” said Coughlan.
In addition, pupils considering their subject choices should remember that despite the change of requirements at school, universities are not required to change their admission requirements. “Higher education institutions need not change entry requirements if they don’t want to, and one can be sure that many, if not most, won’t. Definitely not in the short term.
“In light of these changes in subject choice requirements, and given the risk of pupils opting for perceived easier subjects or subjects that are too similar in nature, we urge pupils to investigate their options carefully, and schools to support them in making informed decisions,” said Coughlan.