I have been working at the District Six Museum for about five weeks now, and internship experience has been completely different from what I had expected. Prior to coming on this trip, I was under the impression that the majority of my internship would be that of a young curator. But instead, I have actually had the opportunity to work with the youth that go to school in the District Six region. For a while I was a little bit perplexed the frequent encounters I had with children. But I recently remembered that our boss, Mandy, is the Education Manger of the District Six Museum.
At the beginning of our internship, our work didn’t have a lot of direction. We began by understanding the importance of the museum, and we began to familiarize ourselves with the city of Cape Town. We were giving a few tasks, but there really wasn’t any sense of direction behind what we were doing. We finally got that direction when we were given the opportunity to run a workshop for the youth.
For our workshop we had about 15-20 students from Walmer Primary School ages 12-14. Our workshop was about Human Rights Violations and their roles as young citizens of South Africa. Although it was a mentally draining experience, it felt like I was doing something productive for the community. After running the workshop, we were given the opportunity to help put the “A Night at the Museum” event. (To donate to our event please go to the link below.) We not only have to help facilitate the event, but we also have to get students to come, fund, and organize it.
When we were first brought with the task, our first thought was that there would be many students from Walmer Primary who would be able to attend the event. Unfortunately, we hit a little bump in the road. Around the same time we were doing registration for the event, Walmer Primary School had the infamous Chalk Scandal. A group of students decided that it would be a good idea to steal talk from the teacher’s desk. They then decided it would be a better idea to smoke the chalk. Unfortunately, the majority of the kids that came to our workshop was involved in that incident.
This incident really got me thinking about why something like this could happen. What could have compelled these kids to do something like this? And the simple answer is boredom. From my observation, kids have nothing to do during the day. On top of that, the school system doesn’t really put any incentive for students to attend for the last week of their first session before winter holiday. Students take their final exams during the second to last week of school, so the last week of school is useless. Since there is no reason to come to school, and a lot of these kids come from the townships, there is no reason for them to make the journey if they weren’t going to receive any education. And even if these kids come to school, their teachers gave them no instruction.
What has surprised me the most about the South African educational system is the lack of athletic involvement in the youth. I just thought that the kids would be more active. I feel like I see more kids hanging around on the side of the streets instead of kicking around a soccer ball or tossing around a rugby ball. Maybe I’m not seeing the entire picture, but I feel that I higher emphasis on athletics would help stimulate these kids during the day. Obviously implementing school sports wouldn’t be feasible with the lack of school funding. But just giving kids a designated recess time, with some balls is a start. I’m just genuinely worried about what these kids do all day to suppress their boredom.
P.S. Shoutout to Bob for making it here safely!
P.S. Donate to our event! http://www.givengain.com/activist/122359/projects/8526/#content