Original Research-Special Collection: Teaching and learning in the Early Years

Utilising a cultural–historical analysis to map the historicity of Social Studies, Natural Science and Technology education in the early years

Hannelie du Preez, Retha van Niekerk
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 2 | a573 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i2.573 | © 2018 Hannelie du Preez, Retha van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 August 2017 | Published: 29 November 2018

About the author(s)

Hannelie du Preez, Department of Early Childhood Development and Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Retha van Niekerk, Department of Early Childhood Education, North-West University, South Africa


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.


Knowledge (BK); child citizens; (CHAT); cultural-historical analysis; Early Childhood Education (ECE); ecological systems theory; Foundation Phase (FP); media theory; nature of science (NOS); socio-scientific issues (SSI)


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Crossref Citations

1. Ethnocentric Shapeshifting: Seeking Traces of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Caring amongst Early Childhood Education Lecturers
Donna Hannaway, Hannelie Du Preez
Africa Education Review  vol: 18  issue: 1-2  first page: 51  year: 2021  
doi: 10.1080/18146627.2022.2109050