The Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (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 Omaheke and Ohangwena Regions.
The competition had the aim of highlighting 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,” said Philippe Talavera.
According to the OSISA Group report “Rethinking Indigenous Education,” only 67 percent of San children in the country enroll 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 projects aims at promoting cultural tolerance in schools.
The San Friendly competition aimed at encouraging schools to promote tolerance for all cultures, including the San culture. It 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.
At the end of the competition, three schools rose to be victorious within the Omaheke and Ohangwena regions. In the Omaheke Region, Vergenog Primary School scooped first place. Helena Primary School and Dr Fisher Primary School took second and third place respectively. In the Ohangwena Region Wangushu Combined School won first place, the runner up was Malangu Primary School and Omukukutu Combined School won third place.
An official prize giving ceremony will take place on 08 November for Vergenog Primary School, and on 10 November 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’ said Talavera. “We are very proud of the work done by Vergenog Primary School and Wangushu Combined School and hope they will continue with a culture of tolerance.”
OYO is a Namibian trust that promotes cultural preservation, social rights awareness and self-worth among young people through the use of artistic expression such as writing, dance, theatre and music. The OYO San Matter Project has the primary purpose of using creative arts to engage with and empower San students.