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Legacy, Language and Learning

Margaret Adrian-Vallance reports on how a generous legacy is enabling the ROSL-Namibia education project to continue supporting language and learning projects in these challenging times

A generous legacy from Dr Donald Valentine, which at his request is restricted to ROSL education projects in Namibia, is enabling three projects there to continue and develop.

Since tailor-made projects in Namibia have been so closely developed and associated with ROSL over the years, the ROSL Trustees agreed at their last meeting that ROSL bursaries for students reading Education at the University of Namibia (UNAM) will continue and that support for Maths, Reading and English classes at Mondesa Youth Opportunities (MYO) in Swakopmund for township children will be extended for another year.

The Valentine legacy will also help MYO to enhance its training links with schools in remote areas beyond Swakopmund, one of these being with Katora Primary School at the foot of the Spitzkoppe mountain in the Namib desert. ROSL had close links with the school in the past and it was one of several project sites featured in the ROSL Centenary film of 2010.

In addition, a new project developed by Benediktus Motlatla, community leaders and a ROSL bursary alumnus in north-west Namibia started in August. This is centred on the isolated Nyae Nyae villages around Tsumkwe and will facilitate the development of IT, business and language skills and a much-needed increase in the number of translators from the local language of Jul’hoan into English and vice versa.

Jul’hoan is the first language of a group of former foragers of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy region, but its future is threatened. Current estimates of speakers range downward from 33,600 ( to 11,000 (Biesele and Hitchcock2011:5). At the project site of Tsumkwe which is home to some 2000 Jul’hoan San, Jul’hoan is still learned at home and precariously holds national educational language status to Grade 4. Around 37 settlements are spread throughout the Conservancy.

Tsumkwe, originally a water source with no petrol station and only one shop, is now the administrative centre of the area. The small town is the only place to buy goods and provides access to a combined school, a clinic and other government facilities and services. At the present time there are more elephants and leopards in the area than there are laptops so it is a challenging project in challenging terrain.

Elsewhere, the agreed term of ROSL support for humanitarian/education work in India, Bangladesh and Tanzania ended in the Autumn and in Kenya our ROSL-Langalanga scholar recently graduated from University in Nairobi with flying colours (pictured above).