What is the CAPS Curriculum or CAPS Document?

What is a National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement?

A National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement is a single, comprehensive, and concise document for all the subjects listed in the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12.

CAPS South Africa

The policy is focused on learning and teaching in South African schools and consists of:

  • Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements for each approved school subject as listed in the policy document National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12;
  • The policy document National policy about the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12 which describes the number of subjects to be offered by learners in each grade and the promotion requirements to be obtained; and
  • The policy document National Protocol for Assessment Grades R – 12 standardises the recording and reporting processes for Grades R – 12 within the framework.
  • There is a Foundation Phase CAPS Document, an Intermediate Phase CAPS Document, a Senior Phase CAPS Document and an FET CAPS Document.
Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement

National Curriculum Statements (NCS) Grades R – 12 

The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 gives expression to the knowledge, skills and values worth learning in South African schools. This curriculum aims to ensure that children acquire and apply knowledge and skills in meaningful ways to their own lives. In this regard, the curriculum promotes learning in local contexts while being sensitive to global imperatives.

CAPS Meaning in Education


The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 serves the purpose of:

  • equipping learners, irrespective of their socio-economic background, race, gender, physical ability or intellectual ability, with the knowledge, skills and values necessary for self-fulfilment, and meaningful participation in society as citizens of a free country;
  • providing access to higher education;
  • facilitating the transition of learners from educational institutions to the workplace; and
  • providing employers with a good profile of a learner’s competencies.


The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 is based on the following principles:

  • Social transformation: ensuring that the educational imbalances of the past are redressed and that equal educational opportunities are provided for all sections of the population;
  • Active and critical learning: encouraging a dynamic and critical approach to learning, rather than rote and uncritical learning of given truths;
  • High knowledge and high skills: the minimum standards of knowledge and skills to be achieved at each grade are specified and set high, achievable standards in all subjects;
  • Progression: content and context of each grade shows the progression from simple to complex; 
  • Human rights, inclusivity, environmental and social justice: infusing the principles and practices of social and ecological justice and human rights as defined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 is sensitive to issues of diversity such as poverty, inequality, race, gender, language, age, disability and other factors;
  • Valuing indigenous knowledge systems: acknowledging the rich history and heritage of this country as significant contributors to nurturing the values contained in the Constitution; and
  • Credibility, quality and efficiency: providing an education comparable in quality, breadth and depth to those of other countries.

What is the Aims of the Curriculum?

The National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 aims to produce learners that can:

  • identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking;
  • work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team;
  • organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively;
  •  collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information;
  • communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and language skills in various modes;
  • use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation.


Inclusivity should become a central part of the organisation, planning and teaching at each school. This inclusivity can only happen if all teachers have a sound understanding of how to recognise and address barriers to learning and plan for diversity. The key to managing inclusivity is ensuring that barriers are identified and addressed by all the relevant support structures within the school community, including teachers, District-Based Support Teams, Institutional-Level Support Teams, parents and Special Schools as Resource Centres. Teachers should use various curriculum differentiation strategies such as those included in the Department of Basic Education’s Guidelines for Inclusive Teaching and Learning (2010).

What does the CAPS document consist of?

There is a CAPS document for each subject and phase. The document provides an introduction to the aims and principles of the CAPS curriculum in section 1, specific information on the teaching and outcomes of the subject in section 2, with section 3 covering the content requirements and section 4 assessment.

Can CAPS be used to guide teaching?

The CAPS document is an excellent teaching guide. Along with a quality learner book, the CAPS document provides everything a teacher needs to deliver all the content required by the curriculum.

What is Section 4 of the CAPS document about?

Section 4 of the CAPS document is concerned with assessment. It provides guidelines for the required number of formal and informal assessments in a phase and per subject, and the assessment types a teacher must use.

What is continuous assessment according to CAPS?

Continuous is an assessment model that encourages integrating assessment into teaching by providing daily feedback about the learning process and attaining required skills and learning outcomes.

Are you a new teacher? Read this intro to CAPS.