First Khoe and San Community School opens

In a significant step towards promoting indigenous languages and cultural preservation, the Gauteng Provincial Office of the Pan-South African Language Board (PanSALB) unveiled its inaugural Khoe and San community school on May 15.

The pilot program, located at EW Hobbs Primary School in Eldorado Park aims to provide voluntary, extra-mural classes for Nama (Khoe) to Grade 0-7 learners.

The launch of the community school was met with enthusiasm from both the Gauteng Provincial Office and EW Hobbs Primary School as approximately 50 students from Grade 4 to 7 eagerly attended their first Khoe lessons on this special day.

Guiding the students through the lessons is Hillary Rinkwest, an experienced facilitator who underwent intensive training in the Northern Cape earlier this year.

PanSALB, a key supporter of the community school, has committed to supplying learning materials to aid in the educational process. The first batch of materials was officially handed over during a special meeting held on March 30, 2023, at the provincial office. The selection and creation of these materials were carried out under the guidance of Telle Hoeses, a member of the Gauteng Provincial Language Committee for Khoe and San.

The pilot program, spanning a duration of nine months, focuses on teaching the fundamentals of Khoe, including greetings, numbers, days of the week, and family relationships. By doing so, it aims to foster the use and safeguarding of Khoe as an indigenous language.

Both facilitators involved in the project, Hillary Rinkwest and Lelani Jacobs, are native speakers of Khoe. Their expertise in education and childcare, coupled with their language proficiency, ensures a well-rounded learning experience for the students. In preparation for their roles, PanSALB provided them with further intensive training in March 2023.

The decision to establish the Khoe and San community school was driven by the demand for quality Khoe language instruction within schools and local communities.

In their research, PanSALB identified Eldorado Park and Reiger Park as areas with a notable interest in the language and culture. Consequently, the second pilot program is scheduled to commence soon at Reiger Park Primary School, with Lelani Jacobs taking the helm as the facilitator.

The project team expresses its gratitude to EW Hobbs Primary School and Reiger Park Primary School for their willingness to host these pilot programs, highlighting the community’s commitment to preserving and promoting the Khoe language and San culture.

The launch of the first Khoe and San community school marks an important milestone in the ongoing efforts to preserve South Africa’s linguistic diversity and celebrate its rich cultural heritage.

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