A critical analysis of CAPS for Life Skills in the Foundation Phase (Grades R–3)

  • Kerryn Dixon University of the Witwatersrand
  • Hilary Janks University of the Witwatersrand
  • Debbie Botha
  • Katarina Earle
  • Manono Poo
  • Fiona Oldacre
  • Kamala Pather
  • Kerri-Lee Schneider
Keywords: Foundation Phase, Life Skills curriculum, teacher knowledge


The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement Foundation Phase Life Skills curriculum (DBE, 2011) is composed of four focus areas: Beginning Knowledge; Personal and Social Well-being; Creative Arts; and Physical Education. These areas draw on a number of disciplines and this makes the curriculum dense. This density is, in turn, a challenge for teachers and teacher education. We perform an historical analysis of Life Skills curriculum documents from 1977 to the present and a content analysis of the CAPS document. Using Bernstein (1971, 1996) we show that this curriculum is weakly classified and that epistemological orientations are blurred, if not rendered invisible. The specificity of different disciplinary lenses that have different objects of enquiry, methods of analysis, and criteria for truth claims is lost in an overemphasis on everyday knowledge. If teachers are not themselves schooled in the languages of the disciplines that underpin Life Skills they may not be able to give children access to them, nor are they likely to be able to help them understand how different parts of the system relate to one another.

Author Biographies

Kerryn Dixon, University of the Witwatersrand
School of Education
Hilary Janks, University of the Witwatersrand
School of Education
Research Articles