The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) hosted its 8th annual Heritage Education Schools Outreach Programme (HESOP) boot camp in Hartbeespoort from the 3 – 7 October 2016. This year’s theme was centred around nation building and the use of heritage for unity.
The programme featured eight schools with all nine provinces represented by each school except for the Eastern Cape which couldn’t reach the final stage of this year’s edition.
The programme has been growing from strength to strength. Due to its continued growth, new partners have entered the fray to make it even bigger. For the first time since inception, the NHC partnered with the Department of Basic Education, the National Arts Council and the National Film and Video Foundation. Learners were given many insightful lessons on the origin of mankind and the importance of nation building.
Learners from eight provinces battled it out for top honours in presentations focusing on the 1976 Soweto student uprising, 1956 women march to the union buildings and social cohesion. The field research was on the value of the archeological heritage of the Sterkfontein Caves world heritage site in Gauteng which is popularly known as Maropeng. The leaners visited the site during the camp and had to produce a condensed presentation within 24 hours.
James Nxumalo Agricultural High School from Kwazulu Natal was seleceted as the best school by the adjudicators following their splendid performance amongst all the presentations, walking away with a whopping R25 000 cheque as a first prize winner at this year’s edition of the Outreach Programme. Harry Smith Secondary from the Free State Province scooped R15 000 as second prize winners whilst Vuyani Mawethu Secondary School from the North West Province were this year’s third prize winners and walked away with a prize money of R10 000.
As a token of appreciation to all the schools that made it to the finals, the National Arts Council awarded them with a prize money of R2 000 each.
“I’m happy that we have come a very long way with these learners and it wasn’t easy to get to the finals. I’m happy for them because they had to compromise a lot just to be able to excel in this competition, it still sounds like a dream,” said the winning teacher Thandi Magubane.
CEO of the National Heritage Council, Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa congratulated all the students for making it to the finals of this year’s edition.
“Out of more than 682 leaners you worked very hard to represent your respective provinces. After this you are going to be more enlightened about your country’s heritage. The knowledge you have gained will change your life forever. The knowledge on the basics of heritage is very pivotal, especially to the youth of today” said Mancotywa.
Mancotywa urged the students to take the lessons learned from the programme back to their communities and help build a better South Africa.
“Social cohesion means you are trying to build something that is different. My culture, your culture one nation– this slogan demonstrates what is social cohesion. You must deal with the stereotypes that colonialism left us with. Some will say Xhosa people do this and that, those stereotypes have to be defeated. We have to fight the demon of tribalism and racism,” added Mancotywa.
Mancotywa urged the learners to take part in heritage related activities all year long and not only in September.
“The Chinese invested in their heritage and that is because they do everything in their own way. They are everywhere and now they are already conquering the world with their language. They are taking their culture out there. When you speak of heritage we are not talking of something that you must celebrate on the 24th of September only,” said Mancotywa to a great applause from the learners.