Windhoek – Vergenoeg Primary School from the Omaheke Region and the Wangushu Combined School in the Ohangwena Region are winners of the San Children Competition in the two respective regions.
In the Omaheke Region, the Helena Primary School and Dr Fisher Primary School took second and third place, respectively, while in the region of Ohangwena the runner-up was Malangu Primary School with Omukukutu Combined School third. The official prize-giving ceremony takes place next Saturday for Vergenoeg Primary School, and on November 10 for Wangushu Combined School. The winning schools will each get a computer and trophy and will be encouraged to share their experience with other schools.
“Cultural diversity is a reality in our schools, and learning to respect all cultures, including from minority groups, is of particular importance,” says Dr Phillipe Talavera, director of the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO).
“We are very proud of the work done by Vergenoeg Primary School and Wangushu Combined School and hope they will continue with a culture of tolerance,” he adds.
OYO held the San Friendly Competition for children aged 6-14 years through the San Matter Project, which was financed by the Finnish Embassy. The competition was launched at the beginning of this year and took place in the regions of Omaheke and Ohangwena. The aim was to highlight the importance of education to San parents and children, and encourage San children to continue attending school.
“If the educational outcomes for the San children are improved, it can lead significantly to the reduction of poverty and raise the quality of life within the San communities in Namibia, thus supporting the Harambee Prosperity Plan,” says Dr Talavera.
According to the OSISA Group report “Rethinking Indigenous Education,” only 67 percent of San children in the country enrol in school. And only one percent of those children complete secondary school. Many factors contribute to this, one of them being cultural discrimination. In some schools, San children feel discriminated against by other children and, at times, teachers. The San Matter Project aims at promoting cultural tolerance in schools.
The San Friendly Competition had three components. Firstly a board competition was held in which schools were given two boards, and had to paint strong messages about friendship and respect of the San culture. Second, a dance competition took place, whereby San children taught non-San children a traditional dance. This encouraged non-San children to learn more about the San culture. Finally, an evaluation of the school environment by San children themselves was implemented. Here San children were asked to evaluate their own school, and in particular assess if bullying and discrimination happened at their schools.