Umalusi has called for Life Orientation to be recognised and included in the points system required for university entry. This came after engagement with principals at the Principals Conference in Durban. The Daily Vox spoke to a few students in Durban to find out what they think.
Sizwe Sisoka, 23, student, Durban
I had no problem with Life Orientation from the lower grades but the way it was taught to us between grade 11 and 12 was a different case. I can’t recall a single thing that we learned in class since; even our LO teacher was absent at times. At some point he even stopped teaching us. Initially the subject only went on so that we could have a year end mark. I did not consider our pass mark to be of any importance or value at that time. If LO is to be credited as the rest of the subjects, there would have to be some sort of assessing at different schools to see how it is presented to learners and if they do take it seriously.
Umalusi chief executive officer, Dr Mafu Rakometsi said Umalusi acknowledged the work of educators who taught the subject but the challenge was still with the universities recognising it. “We are working at ways of improving its content. The question we asked ourselves was whether LO was contributing positively to address the social ills our society faces, and the answer has been yes,” he said.
Yolanda Mplatyi, 19, student, Durban
Life Orientation generally teaches us about what’s happening in society. I’ve come to the university and some of the surroundings and environment have required me to apply what I was taught in LO. There’s peer pressure, and because I learned about it I am more aware not to fall for the trap. The subject deserves more recognition, but everything should be implemented well from the foundation phase such as the grade which learners start having it as part of the curriculum. It shouldn’t be treated as something that’s provided just for the sake of having an extra subject.
Ndumiso Mkhize, 25, student, uMlazi
It should have been recognised long time ago since it’s a subject that you do from grade eight up to grade 12. But if they are to credit it, there are numerous factors they will have to look into and consider, such as the way in which it is presented in the syllabus. When I was still in high school all we were taught in LO were the basics really. Unlike in the past, where people were taught various essential things such as creativity as part of the subject, we were taught about self-esteem and the likes. There should be new implementation on the teaching system so that learners can also start valuing it.
Jade Mbeje, 23, student, Durban
Crediting of LO in higher learning institutions is not a bad thing but I feel as though it would inconvenience learners who work hard to obtain great marks. If it’s presented as a subject which its points count that will mean most people will gain access to courses they are not eligible for, just because they have the minimum required points. The fight for spaces in certain courses would be very unfair in a sense that it will be first come first serve, so long as people have required points. It won’t matter who is more deserving and has worked hard to gain access to their desired course of choice.
Banele Makhanya, 22, student, Westville
This is both good and bad. The good part of it is that it would give more students an opportunity to gain access to their desired courses. But this will mean that there will be more people going for courses they mostly don’t meet the eligibility just because they meet minimum requirements in terms of marks. It will be unfair on those who have worked hard scoring high marks in subjects like maths and physical science.
Meanwhile Umalusi is convinced that LO is of value, UKZN director of the School of Education Labby Ramrathan believes that it is of no relevance to tertiary education.
“The subject has no real material value and should not be part of the curriculum beyond Grade nine. Most universities do not recognise it for the obvious reasons. It is useless and has no impact on what is being studied at institutions of higher learning.
“I admit that the subject is useful in the foundation and intermediate phases of education where pupils are still learning to understand life, who they are, and what is expected of them, but that is where it should end,” said Ramrathan.