Are the current high school Accounting and EMS curricula really serving the needs our post-millennial students?  This is an important question which we would like to explore and discuss with teachers as well as curriculum and examination specialists.

We are now living in what many refer to as the VUCA world.  This is a world which is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.  Watch the news on any day and you will see unpredictable events, crime, corruption, climate change and violence which affects our lives and work space.

This VUCA world has come about partly because of the disruptive and even destructive nature of the rapid technological changes in the 4th Industrial Revolution. This differs from the changes in the previous three Industrial Revolutions which happened over a period of 200 years, allowing people to acclimatise to the changes at a more leisurely pace.

Now the speed of change is different i.e. disruptive and much faster. Our learners require different skills sets to deal with and achieve in the VUCA environment.

New software and Apps have taken away a lot of routine drudgery from many tasks, and Artificial Intelligence devices are now at a level where they can be used to drive cars and perform intricate tasks such as brain and eye operations.

In the Accounting context, the chore of entering items in the books of a business has largely been offloaded to software such as Pastel and QuickBooks. Although the manual system still exists in business, the predictions are that this too will transform rapidly in the near future.  So, the question must be asked: Why are we devoting approximately half of the Grade 9 and Grade 10 years teaching learners how to perform bookkeeping entries accurately?

Most teachers would probably say: “Because how else will learners get to know the basics that are

so essential for learners to understand the more advanced Accounting applications and concepts that they will encounter later in the FET phase.”

And the follow-on rhetorical questions would be: How well do most of our learners actually get to understand these entries after the drilling, stress and strain exerted by Accounting teachers, particularly up to mid-Grade 10? AND: Do we really need to know how to construct a car if we want to get a driver’s licence?

The reality is: Our CAPS has served us well but is heavily content-based and very prescriptive on the extensive time devoted to assessment.  The skills imparted are generally reflected in the stipulated cognitive levels aligned to assessment tasks: remembering, understanding, application, analysis, evaluation and synthesis including 10% to problem-solving scenarios.  The cognitive thinking skills are undoubtedly still required, but the VUCA world, in addition, demands a completely new and broad mindset encompassing learning, technological, communication, creative and personal life skills.

The bottom line is: Our CAPS currently does not provide us with the time or opportunity to develop the 21st Century skills in our learners.

We have three options:

  • Do we simply carry on regardless?
  • Do we look for innovative ways to teach 21st century skills outside the curriculum?
  • Do we rethink our curriculum to incorporate 21st Century skills?

In future postings, we intend to look at the 21st century skills in greater depth and to collaborate on learning materials that will enhance teaching and learning in the context of our Accounting curriculum.

Want to submit an opinion? We would love to hear from you!

See sanews.gov.za article titled – ‘Jobs and skills in the forth industrial revolution

For further explanations on 21st Century skills refer to the following article from SA News and a 14-minute TEDx video.