Village Schools Project

Our goal is to improve the Nyae Nyae Lower Primary Village Schools infrastructural needs. We must however go beyond “fixing up schools”. We recommend a collaborative approach focusing on solving immediate infrastructural problems, simultaneously focusing on the development of sustainable, long term solutions.

Save the San seeks support to create five viable Nyae Nyae lower primary Village Schools providing mother tongue education to young Ju/’hoan learners, close to home communities by meeting immediate infrastructural and educational challenges. This will increase student attendance and retention at school and sustain this ancient culture through sustaining their heritage, language and memories.

Save the San works through the Ju/’hoansi Development Fund, a non profit organisation established in 2007 and registered in Namibia.

Current Challenges

The delivery of education in the Nyae Nyae region is logistically complicated. Remote locations, long distances, inadequate school facilities, food and equipment are challenges to quality education. It is also important to emphasise that the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen still rely heavily on cultural knowledge and skills for their survival. The gathering of fruits, nuts, roots and leaves from the environment provides food and medicine for Ju/’hoan communities. Hunting by traditional methods is also still permitted.

Parents, the Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Traditional Authorities are all eager to take ownership for their children’s education. The involvement of parents and community has increased slowly over time, however there are numerous obstacles to full and effective participation in education. From the onset, the Nyae Nyae Lower Primary Village Schools made substantial progress with regards to mother tongue education, teacher training and the development of first language literacy materials. However since their inception capacity building has steadily declined. Rudimentary school structures introduced 25 years ago were not only hostile and alien to the community, but, with little access to building materials, are in various states of decay. Inadequate accommodation for teachers and learners negates any positive effect teachers might have in the classroom, particularly where boarding learners and teachers continue to sleep in tents and classrooms.

Service delivery to schools in the form of school supplies, blankets, basic foods and support is extremely poor, with no organised transport system. Moreover, young children often have to walk long distances from school to home and back, and are frequently confronted by elephants and other wild animals.

It is therefore understandable that parents would have a negative expectation of how their children are looked after, even before they themselves become involved with the education process. Schools often appear intimidating and hostile places to parents who are thus reluctant to get involved in their children’s education. This is frequently taken to mean that Ju/’hoan parents do not care about their children’s education, which is not the case.

Ju/’hoan elders and parents believe that the current system fails their children by not addressing the needs of both the learners and the parents. The historic under-investment in lower primary schools needs to be re-addressed in accordance with the specific needs of the Ju/’hoan community.