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The benefits of an international curriculum for your child


If a child holds an internationally recognised matric equivalent then they will be able to study abroad should they wish.

Picture: Ayanda Ndamane, African News Agency (ANA)

As “GLOBALISATION” cements itself as a key buzzword, parents are looking to equip their children to be competitive in an international environment, and many are currently evaluating a move away from the limiting South African CAPS curriculum to the internationally recognised Cambridge curriculum.

Benefits of children studying an international curriculum

Sophie Carnegie, the founder of Carnegie House Independent School and it’s big sister Carnegie Hub, a high school situated in Wellington in the Western Cape that follows the Cambridge curriculum, says that there are several major benefits to an international curriculum:

“Space in South African Universities is very limited – particularly for first year entrants. If a child holds an internationally recognised matric equivalent then they will be able to study abroad should they wish. This opens so many doors for today’s young – global trends mean that people compete in a global village, and so need to be competitively educated.”

“Students who complete high school with the Cambridge International Curriculum can also receive a South African university exemption too. This gives the student the option of applying to local and international universities, and thereby greatly increases their chances of acceptance into a highly regarded tertiary institution,” said Carnegie.

“All universities in the UK and most universities in the US and Canada, accept Cambridge International A Levels as adequate qualifications to apply for tertiary studies.

“But probably most important is the fact that the Cambridge curriculum nurtures young people of all academic levels and ability and adequately prepares them for life in the 21st century – developing essential skills such as critical thinking, creativity and flexibility and an ability to view the world as connected. All students will benefit from a Cambridge education – not just the academic child.”

How do children cope with the difference and change?

Carnegie advises that she has been receiving an increasing number of queries regarding the Cambridge curriculum, with parents asking for information and details about the transition from CAPS and wondering how their children will handle the change.

“The Cambridge and CAPS curriculums have very different approaches to curriculum outcomes – CAPS is very content heavy, rigid and does not allow students to consolidate the concepts and their thinking around the concepts. The CAPS curriculum is also fairly static – with not much review or amendments taking place in order to consider the changes happening in the world around us.”

“In comparison, whilst the Cambridge curriculum also has a lot of content, this content is made applicable to different scenarios and students are guided to internalise the concepts and be able to apply their understanding into different settings – demonstrating understanding rather than just rote memory. There is far more flexibility, agility and creativity in thinking required. The content of the Cambridge curriculum is also reviewed every three years to ensure that it is current and relevant. Students are commended for original problem-solving and creative thinking.”

“Teenagers have an amazingly flexible brain. In fact, the teenage brain goes through as much growth and development as a young babies does. What this means is that teenagers who have been exposed to the CAPS curriculum approach and way of thinking and learning can easily adapt to the Cambridge curriculum – they just need to be guided, shown the possibilities, be encouraged to apply their minds and amazing things will happen.”

Carnegie advises that parents considering a change to the Cambridge curriculum should ensure it is made three years before the end of school – so Grade 10. But children in Grade 11 can also make the transition given the right guidance and teaching.

More about the Cambridge Curriculum

The Cambridge curriculum is globally recognised – and is offered in 160 countries worldwide.

Grades eight, nine or 10 students in South Africa, who are considering studying at international tertiary institutions, have the option of completing high school at institutions that offer the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

Schools that offer these examinations will allow you to study IGCSE, AS and A level subjects.

The Cambridge syllabus allows South African high school students a qualification that is acceptable by all South African universities, universities of technology, and most notably universities in 165 countries internationally.

It usually takes two years for a student to complete both their AS and A levels, the final secondary qualification levels of Cambridge International.

This means that South African students can gain an internationally recognised school leaving qualification in the same amount of time as a South African matriculation qualification, perhaps even with fewer subjects