BACKGROUND : South Africa needs citizens who are morally sound, adaptive to change,
technologically innovative and literate in socio-scientific issues. The young child is apparently
being prepared for active citizenry through basic “Social Science, Natural Sciences and
Technology” education as encapsulated in the South African curriculum.
AIM : We foreground a theoretical and analytical framework to map the cultural–historical
trajectory of South Africa’s Beginning Knowledge curriculum.
SETTING : Cultivating citizenship requires that these science subject domains be incorporated in
a coherent, well-conceptualised and relevant early childhood curriculum as suggested by
international literature. Educators need to be specialists in socio-scientific issues in both the
content and pedagogy of these sciences in order to expound the curriculum.
METHODS : Our newly coined hybridised theoretical framework - the ‘Hybrid CHAT’ - together
with an aligned analytical framework enabled us to illuminate the historical subject-didactical
genetic development of Beginning Knowledge. An extensive sample of typographical
textbooks, artefacts and cultural tools were analysed and interpreted.
RESULTS : Beginning Knowledge is afforded limited teaching time. The knowledge, skills and
values associated with these science subjects serve to support and strengthen the acquisition
of language and mathematics competencies. Currently, Beginning Knowledge does not
sufficiently prepare child citizens for the global demands of the 21st century.
CONCLUSION : Hybrid CHAT could invite further studies to place Beginning Knowledge on par
with international curricula. This would also align the curriculum with the aspirations for an
ideal South African citizenry as well as prepare child citizens to pursue Science and Technology for social development.
This article is based on the PhD dissertation of H. du Preez,
entitled ‘A historical subject-didactical genetic analysis
of Life Skills education in early childhood’, under the
supervision of Dr H.M. van Niekerk, North-West University,