JOSEPH SHINDELE NUUYUNI
AS A STUDENT TEACHING specializing in Geography and History, I encounter many challenges – either from classmates majoring in other subjects, or from students during teaching practice.
A question I am often asked is: what do I like about teaching about the dead?
Educator Salomo Ndehimona puts it this way: History is the history of people and the past. We look at what they did, the impact and the consequences.
When we study history, we try to make sense of previous events so that we can learn from the past and avoid making the same mistakes again.
When discussing with others or trying to explain more to my students, I use an example of land that once belonged to the Aandonga people, which was sold to white people in exchange for alcohol.
It’s a mistake we can learn from: that you shouldn’t trade something as valuable as land for something less valuable, like alcohol. The earth is there forever, the alcohol is quickly over.
Learning from the past helps us make sense of the present.
Subjects like history also help students develop a curiosity about the world around them. It helps us learn more about ourselves, our people, our communities and our countries.
It is through history that we know who our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers are.
Moreover, history is important because it tells us, for example, that Namibia was colonized by Germany in 1884 and by South Africa from the 1920s until 1990, when we got our independence.
It also helps show us how things change over time. This includes technological developments and changes, for example, in lifestyles, rules and laws.
In some Namibian schools, history students are bullied and even called names such as omasolo just because they are studying a social subject. Some schools have even chosen not to offer social fields.
I have noticed cases where students who did not get 35 marks in grade 9 are among those who are forced to do social studies in grade 10.
Out of 25 students who study history, only three could do it voluntarily. The others do it because they were forced to or because they have no other choice, because the other fields of study are full.
As a result, this seems to generate hatred towards the social sciences and more particularly history.
This in turn contributes to making the story unpopular in some schools.
There are also other factors. These include lack of information on careers related to the subject, lack of qualified teachers to teach the subject, unavailability of related teaching and learning materials, lack of historical facilities and the low motivation of some teachers.
If these factors are addressed, we can expect to see a positive change in the story and it might regain the uniqueness it once had.
A LIVING SUBJECT
The Ministry of Education should consider employing history graduates to teach the subject at all levels instead of assigning it to teachers of other subjects.
The ministry, together with non-governmental educational organizations, should help provide the necessary teaching and learning materials.
Universities and colleges should, as a matter of duty, organize seminars, workshops and promote training programs on history. This will help ensure topic relevance.
There is also a need for teachers and subject advisers to educate history students about the earning potential of the subject and the career options available to them. This can be done when universities organize job fairs.
In addition, parents and teachers should be encouraged to motivate and support students instead of making fun of them.
They can also help by providing a list of careers available to those studying history, as well as providing a good example of someone who can serve as a role model for students.
This will help students to gain confidence and to be passionate and proud of the subject they have chosen to study.
History is full of possibilities!
* Joseph Nuuyuni is a final year student in education at the Ongwediva International Management University campus; [email protected]