Politicising curriculum implementation: The case of primary schools
Since 2012, the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) comprise the new National Curriculum Statement currently implemented in South African schools. CAPS encapsulates a series of radical curriculum changes since the dawn of a new democratic dispensation in 1994. This study aims to understand how Grade Three educators in Limpopo, South Africa, approach the implementation of the most recent CAPS. The analysis of data revealed inconsistencies between the ‘optimistic’ view of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to improve curriculum implementation despite continuously changing the curriculum, and the ‘pessimistic’ scenario where educators consistently refer to obstacles to curriculum implementation. Respondents suggested that CAPS implementation is hampered by inadequate training of educators, a lack of resources, and too much paperwork. The study points to the politicisation of implementation signalled through educators’ dissatisfaction with the DBE and their positive view of trade unions. This article argues that in the highly politicised education context of South Africa, curriculum implementation takes a back seat to institutional and individual political machinations.
Keywords: Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS); curriculum change; curriculum implementation; politics; primary school educators; South Africa; teacher unions
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