Education is one of the most important aspects of any modern society. That is why it is important to standardise the education system across the country. This is precisely where CAPS comes in as it is the policy statement for learning and teaching in South Africa.

Despite the influence of CAPS on education, not many people know a lot about it. That is why we decided to write this article to take a closer look at what CAPS entails. We will look at what it is, as well as its purpose, principles, and aims. To give you a better understanding of what the South African education system strives for.

Are you looking for a good CAPS School that you can attend in the comfort of your own home? Then Elroi Academy might be right for you.

What is CAPS?

CAPS stands for the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement. It is a single, concise and comprehensive policy document introduced by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). It was an amendment to the National Curriculum Statement with the amendments coming into effect in January of 2012 It contains the policy for learning and teaching in South African schools from Grade R to Grade 12 for all the recognised subjects in the curriculum. Each subject has a separate CAPS document each covering the following four topics:

  • Section 1: An introduction to the aims and principles of the CAPS curriculum 
  • Section 2: Information on the teaching and outcomes of the subject
  • Section 3: Content requirements for the subject
  • Section 4: Assessment policy for the subject

What is the purpose of CAPS?

CAPS serves a number of vital purposes in South Africa. These are as follows:

  • It equips learners with the knowledge, skills and values necessary for self-fulfilment and meaningful participation in society.
  • Provides access to higher education by standardising the curriculum to meet admission requirements of higher education institutions.
  • It facilitates the transition of learners into the workplace from educational institutions
  • Provides employers with a thorough profile of a learner’s competencies

Overall CAPS ensures that the standard of education is consistent. This in turn achieves all of the above-mentioned purposes.

Principles of CAPS

There are certain guiding principles that CAPS is based on. These principles are as follows:

  • Critical and active learning: To encourage a critical and dynamic approach to learning instead of the traditional uncritical learning and returning of given facts.
  • High standards for knowledge and skills: Setting specific minimum standards of knowledge and skills to be obtained at each grade. These standards are set high but achievable in all subjects.
  • Social transformation: Redressing the educational imbalances of the past and ensuring equal educational opportunities are provided equally to all members of the population.
  • Progression: A progression from simple to complex in the content and context of each grade
  • Human rights, inclusivity, social and environmental justice: To infuse throughout the policy the principles and practices of social and ecological justice and human rights as defined by the Republic of South Africa’s constitution. To ensure that the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 is aware of and sensitive to issues of diversity like poverty, race, gender, language, age disability, and other factors.
  • Indigenous knowledge systems: Acknowledging and valuing the rich heritage and history of South Africa as significant contributors to nurturing the values contained in the Constitution,
  • Quality, credibility, and efficiency: To provide an education of quality, breadth, and depth comparable to those of other countries in the world.

CAPS approach to teaching

The CAPS approach to teaching is to define certain aims for the learners while teaching the subjects in a contextualised manner. Each CAPS document acts as a teaching guide for the subject to ensure that every teacher is able to produce learners that are able to:

  • Identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking
  • Work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team
  • Responsibly and effectively organise and manage themselves and their activities
  • Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information
  • Communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation.

Student assessment under CAPS

The CAPS system defines assessment as a continuous planned process of identifying, gathering and interpreting information about the performance of learners, referred to as continuous assessment. This assessment model includes both informal assessments like quizzes and formal assessments like exams. All forms of assessment under CAPS involve the following:

  • Generating and collecting evidence of achievement
  • Evaluating this evidence
  • Recording the findings
  • Using this information to understand and thereby assist the learner’s development in order to improve the learning and teaching process
  • Providing regular feedback to learners to enhance the learning experience


As we have seen CAPS truly is a comprehensive system that aims to establish a high standard of education in South Africa. We hope this article has helped you to better understand the curriculum used in our country and its goals. The importance of education cannot be overstated which is why it is reassuring that the South African government has such a comprehensive and specific policy like CAPS to guide education.

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