Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 4 September 2008

Oral history education applauded

By Latoya Newman

A leading American academic on Wednesday credited South Africa’s further education and training curriculum for being “far ahead of any other in the world” for its inclusion of all people.

Trevor Getz, a professor at the San Francisco University’s history department, was hosting a workshop to help KwaZulu-Natal teachers and curriculum advisers understand teaching oral history. He said the South African curriculum had successfully reassessed the value of people’s knowledge of the past.
“Historically, in the past 200 years the way you would get to know the past is through professional collections of history. SA addresses things like heritage, tradition and oral history and it is done critically,” said Getz.

Paul Teichmann, the curator of the Luthuli Museum in Groutville, on the North Coast, where the workshop was held, said oral history was especially important in this country, where history of many communities had been marginalized.
“Oral history makes it possible for a wider range of stories to be told. It is an exciting source of historical evidence.”

Teachers at the workshop raised concerns that included their limited knowledge of a method of teaching oral history and getting pupils motivated about doing such projects. On addressing these concerns, Praveen Ram, a curriculum adviser in the KZN education department, said:
“We want to conduct road shows in oral history and heritage and how teachers can deal with it in their communities. The essence of it is to give position, status and recognition to previously silenced histories.”