Culture Class Report July 2017
Planning and Training Meeting
The Culture Class began on 28 and 29 March 2017 with a planning and training workshop for 7 elders in the Tsumkwe community that expressed an interest in sharing their traditional knowledge and skills with children from Tsumkwe Primary School. At the meeting the elders each chose to specialize in lessons which best matched their interests and traditional expertise. The result is expressed here in the table below:
Xoan G/aq’o Project Manager Storytelling
!Uu Dam Bush Foods and Medicines Storytelling
//Uce Kxao Bush Foods and Medicines Storytelling
Mossie /Ui Kxao Hunting and Tracking Storytelling
Daqm ≠Oma Hunting and Tracking Storytelling
Kun//an Komtsa Beadwork, Dance, Games Storytelling
Fridrick Cgunta Ju/’hoansi Reading and Writing Storytelling
The teachers, at the time of the meeting, were very concerned about the number of dropouts that they had already observed or had experienced within their own families. They took the initiative to meet personally with the principal to discuss their concern and offer their help to speak to these children and their parents in an effort to return them to school.
This was agreed and the principal urged that the elders begin cultural lessons immediately to provide activities for the children.
Term 1 Lessons
Lessons began after school on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 16h00, which was immediately following mandatory afternoon study period. We soon discovered that afternoon study was very poorly attended, poorly supervised, and children seemed to wander in and out of school in an undisciplined manner. This was problematic, as the elder teachers had to then chase down the San children to bring them to Culture Class.
The overall attendance was still promising, with an average of 22 boys and 24 girls per day. Due to the time wasted chasing the children at the beginning of each lesson, the elder teachers proposed changing the Culture Class to the weekend and coming for longer lessons of two hours each on Saturday and Sunday. This would also allow for more time to take the boys and girls out into the bush to connect better with their culture. Weekend lessons were proposed to commence after the holiday.
During the school holiday, which was six weeks long, the elders moved their activities to the Tsumkwe Community Library and Development Centre. There we ran a daily program for children that were in Tsumkwe during the holiday for the entire 6 week holiday. This included cultural lesson in Language, Hunting and Tracking, Beadwork, Dance and Bushfoods. Storytelling was done daily at the end of each lesson. The children then had the option to read books, play with toys and games, and/or watch television at the Community Centre. Average attendance was 11 boys and 7 girls daily.
Term 2 Lessons
Weekend lessons began immediately after the school and hostel re-opened on 03 June 2017. The elder teachers arrive at 09h00 and prepare their materials while the children are eating breakfast. As the children exit the dining hall, they are assembled into groups before lessons begin. As before, some children are out with the bushfood teachers, some with the hunters, some are studying their language and others are doing beadwork or dancing and playing traditional games.
Attendance at the weekend lessons was initially very good. The hostel supervisors were active and the children entered the dining hall, said a prayer together and ate. This active supervision has become less and less. The children enter the dining hall now when they want, some early and some later. Some children are already done eating and leaving the dining hall, while others are just arriving. This undisciplined environment has caused delays to the start of lessons and is negatively affecting attendance.
Attendance at Culture Class at the beginning of term 2 was approximately 20 boys and 20 girls per 2 hour session. In the last two weeks, the teachers have struggled to group the children and find that only about 10 girls and 10 boys. The Chief of the Traditional Authority, Tsemkxao ≠Oma, has been approached to speak to the children to revive their interest in learning about their culture. Plans are also underway to alter the structure of lessons to make them more of event that truly connects the children to the environment and the culture. This may become more like field trips and lessons would last for the entire day or possibly overnight.
A new fire pit was completed on 4 June 2017. This is located in the circle of bungalows to the north of the reception. It serves as a focal point for cultural performances, a meeting place for elders and the school children, and is used for the storytelling program in the Culture Class. Our storytellers sit around the fire with the children in the late afternoon to tell stories and talk school, problems culture or anything that makes the children feel at home while living in the hostel. Group sizes are an average of 7 to 10 children and 2 storytellers (depending on how many can fit in my little car). Storytelling occurs 3-5 times per week.
Summary of Project Goals
The chief of the Ju/’hoan Traditional Authority, Tsemkxao ≠Oma, has described cultural preservation as one of the most important factors in developing his community. He wants the children to grow up knowing their culture, respecting who they are and where they come from, and feeling proud to be a descendant of the “first people”. This conflicts with the chief’s other principal desire; for the children to succeed academically. While children are in school, they are isolated from their culture, and often receive messages, explicit and implicit, that teach them to feel shame for who they are. Academic success must be merged with cultural pride and understanding.
1. Transfer traditional life skills, values, norms and customs from Ju/’hoan elders to their children. The participating children are learning valuable skills that may one day contribute to the prosperity of their own families.
2. Build within Ju/’hoan children a strong sense of pride for their cultural heritage. Thanks to the excellent role models, our outstanding elder teachers, the children are developing a sense of pride for their cultural heritage.
3. Improve Ju/’hoan children’s academic success. The target group, San children in Tsumkwe Primary School Hostel, was 215 in January 2017. The number of San children at the start of the Project in April was reduced to 104. That’s a dropout rate of 52%. Out of the 104 children that have participated in the project in any form, 87 still remain in the hostel and the school. This is a dropout rate of 16%. This improvement can be attributed, in part, to the success of the project. The elders have reported that they spoke to the parents of 16 children in the villages of Duinpos, Apelpos and Routspos to get them to return to school. All 16 children are still in the hostel and attending school.
While the project is doing a lot of good towards achieving the goals of the Ju/’hoan Traditional Authority, there is still great concern about the high the dropout rate.
Bruce Parcher, der TUCSIN-Tsumkwe Programmleiter, hat aus der Ju/'hoan-Community erfahrene Erwachsene in einem Workshop zu "Elder Teatcher" weitergebildet.
Dabei ging es darum, mit ihnen zu ueben, wie sie ihre Fähigkeiten und Erfahrungen am besten an die Kinder und Jugendliche weitergeben koennen.
Die Culture Classes finden u.a. auch an der oertlichen Primary School statt, die sehr gut mit Bruce Parcher zusammenarbeitet. Diese Schule plant mit Beginn des naechsten Schuljahres, ab Mitte Januar 2017, San-Jugendlichen der hoeheren Klassen zusaetzlichen Unterricht in Englisch und Mathematik zu erteilen, um ihre Chancen für einen erfolgreichen Abschluss zu erhoehen.
Hier ein Link zu einem kleinen Film, der einen guten Eindruck vom Unterricht an der Culture Class gibt. Man sieht, dass die Kinder und Jugendlichen mit großer Freude dabei sind.
Und hier noch einige Bilder vom Workshop fuer die angehenden Lehrer:
Durch die Arbeit in Tsumkwe kamen wir mit TUCSIN, einer non-profit
Bildungsorganisation, in Kontakt, die dort ein Hospitality and Training Center aufbaut.
TUCSIN hat es sich nun auch zur Aufgabe gemacht, die Bildungschance für SAN-Kinder zu verbessern.
Die Mehrheit der Ju/'hoan-Kinder verlassen bereits mit der 4. Klasse die Schule.
Die Gruende dafuer sind grundsaetzlicher Art.
Die Schueler leben die traditionelle Kultur der San nicht mehr und andererseits ist ihnen der Zugang zu einem modernen Namibia erschwert oder bleibt verwehrt.
Das beginnt damit, dass in der Schule die Ju/'hoan-Muttersprache nicht gesprochen wird und sie sich in eine multikulturelle Gemeinschaft integrieren muessen. Dazu kommt, dass sie ihre Familie und ihr Dorf verlassen muessen, um im Hostel zu leben.
Die Ju/’Hoan scheinen sich zwischen den traditionellen Aspekten ihrer Kultur und zwischen dem Streben nach einem fortschrittlichen Leben im modernen Namibia zu befinden, ohne allerdings die positiven Aspekte beider Lebensformen vereinen zu können.
Hier soll das Culture Class Project mit folgendem Programm helfen:
1. Erwachsene Ju/'hoan lehren traditionelle Faehigkeiten, Gebraeuche und Werte.
2. Der Stolz auf ihr kulturelles Erbe soll gestaerkt und verinnerlicht werden.
3. Der schulische Bildungserfolg soll dadurch verbessert werden.
Zielgruppe sind Ju/'hoan Kinder der 4. bis 7. Klasse, die im Hostel der Tsumkwe Primary School leben.
Wie das genau erreicht werden soll, werden wir im naechsten Post berichtenn
UBUNTU NAMIBIA wird dieses Projekt, das noch in 2016 beginnen wird, unterstuetzen.
Hier finden Sie uns
Ubuntu Namibia e.V.
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