Letters to the Editor: June 8 to 14

Our history lessons must put Africa first

For some time there has been a growing debate about whether history should be a compulsory subject throughout school years, instead of it being compulsory until grade nine and a pupil being given the option to drop the subject from grade 10 onwards.

In my view, history is a vital component in the education of the nation. It teaches us about ourselves and where we come from — and, if it is taught from an Afrocentric point of view, it can significantly contribute to the much-needed mental change of the African people.

We as South Africans know much more about other continents than we do about our own. We know more about the beliefs, traditions and history of faraway places than we do about those near to us, which is dangerous. It’s dangerous because we end up wanting to fit into systems and beliefs that don’t cater for us and so we end up failing, simply because of our ignorance of our own history.

Teaching history should not only be compulsory, it should also be taught in an Afrocentric manner and should go deeper by Afrocentrically teaching the history of each subject as well.

An example of this would be: when educators teach maths, they should also include the African history of maths. I say this because many people don’t know that the first mathematicians in the world were African people.

When educators teach geography and about the different continents of the world, they should also teach students about how Australia is a black continent and that the first Australians were the Aboriginals.

Afrocentric teaching will contribute positively to pupils’ outlook about their own continent, giving them a holistic view, as well as moving away from the Eurocentric narrative and way of thinking, which is overdue.

It can’t be that history taught in South Africa is Eurocentric and, when it does focus on African history, it’s taught from a European point of view.

The history that should be taught should be from an African perspective; it can’t be that pupils are taught about Jan van Riebeeck and about Nelson Mandela and the ANC without holistically looking at our South African history and African history as a whole.

For example, when teaching the history of the liberation struggle, it shouldn’t only be taught from mainly an ANC perspective but it should also include the role of movements such as the Pan Africanist Congress and the Azanian People’s Organisation, for example.

The history that should be taught should also be balanced with regard to gender instead of teaching pupils only about great male leaders and deleting the history of great women, who not only led but also stood in the firing line during wars. — Modibe Modiba, Benoni

■ The announcement by the ministerial committee on education that history will be phased in as a compulsory subject in schools is worth welcoming but it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

This is because those in power will use history to tell their side of the story, as they have done in a number of disciplines.

The media and Parliament are living examples. In this case, the ground is likely to be fertile for such distortions because there is going to be a significant shortage of history teachers.

Then they will have to be produced within a very short time, with compromised competency. That will be a breeding ground for distortions and even factual inaccuracies. — Zolani Dinwa

Do away with these useless youth summits

This year has been declared the year of jobs. Past governments have been battling with this issue but this time round we must try to make these promises practical.

As we enter youth month, rest assured that there will be many summits about this issue. We say as young people that we don’t need them. They are useless.

What we need is that government and the private sector must give young people a chance. There are many ways that they can do this: give people internships, learnerships and real jobs so that they will feel more needed.

We can’t be a moving nation if we don’t embrace young people and let them idle at home as if the country has already reached the status of full employment; we are nowhere near there.

But what we are certain about is that youth summits are useless, they add no value to our gross domestic product and the economy at large so let’s declare them dead. We have real issues to face ahead of us — that is what must give every leader a sleepless night.

We have ideas and the correct tools to handle this. Show us the way where we are at fault but don’t shut the door on us. — Tom Mhlanga, Braamfontein

I divorced my husband, not my religion

I am writing to address one question that has been annoying me. The question is: “Now that you are divorced, are you leaving Islam?”

The simple answer is no, I am not. I divorced my husband and not the religion. I know there aren’t a lot of black Muslims in South Africa but it’s rude and ignorant to assume that we all convert to Islam for marriage.

I chose Islam after months of reading up on what it’s all about and marriage came later. I know that there are people who feel pressured to convert for marriage and abandon Islam when things go south.

Respect my choices. If you have never set your foot inside a mosque your opinion on Islam means nothing. You wouldn’t convince me to come back to the “right path”. So keep calm and respect the hijab. — Zimkhitha Sulelo

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