Idea public schools in South Africa are experimenting with a new approach to educating young people, offering free online lessons to pupils who want to learn about the world around them.
The new approach has been in the works for about a year, but has only recently begun to roll out to all public schools.
In the new curriculum, children learn to make their own art, make music and learn to write songs.
“I think it’s a really good idea for children and I think it can be an important tool for teachers,” said Michelle Oster, head of school and community engagement at South Africa’s National Union of Teachers.
Teachers and parents have been impressed by the new system.
“I don’t think the curriculum itself is very complex and challenging,” said teacher Jairo Obele, who is now teaching at the KwaZulu-Natal primary school.
Students are given the option to start from scratch and learn one course per week.
However, parents have expressed concerns about how the curriculum will be used in their children’s education.
Many parents said they did not know the content of the curriculum, and that the teacher was not always consistent.
But Ms Oster said the curriculum is “the most progressive in the country”, with some lessons being introduced from the perspective of a “literate” child.
Parents were also concerned that the new format could be a barrier to learning to use social media, and could create a disconnect between pupils and their teachers.
Ms Oster also pointed out that the curriculum could be useful in a range of other areas, including literacy and numeracy, science, music and art.
She said the program was also proving very popular among teachers.
“We have got more teachers who are taking part in the class,” she said.
South Africa’s public schools have been under pressure in recent years to boost enrolments, and there are fears the number of students attending could drop if the program is not introduced soon.
This week, the government announced a new target of getting at least half of the nation’s 4 million pupils enrolled in schools by 2020.
If implemented, the new plan could make a big difference to the education system.
About one in 10 South Africans has a disability, according to South African government figures.
Education Minister Pravin Gordhan told the Economic and Social Council of South Africa that while some parents wanted to see their children learning to play music, many other parents were not ready to invest in their education.
“But we are going to have to get a handle on it,” he said.
“Parents have been told that they are not going to be able to afford it, so I think that is a very good thing.”
The education minister also said that many parents who have already had their children enrolled would not be able afford to pay for additional lessons.
There have been many complaints about the lack of quality content in the South African curriculum, including a lack of practical skills for young learners.
Some parents, particularly older parents, have been complaining about the amount of time it takes for teachers to teach students.
According to the National Union for Teachers, South Africa currently has about 4,000 teachers, but the education minister said the government would work towards increasing the number.
“This will have a very positive effect on the quality of the education and that will help ensure that South Africa continues to be a very competitive country for the next decade,” he added.
A spokesperson for South Africa Education said it was “very important” to make sure children were prepared for the world outside their school.
“The government will continue to invest heavily in our education system and will continue in the fight against illiteracy in all its forms,” they said.