Owners of Learning

Print | eBook

Language: Englisch

280 pages

illustrations, maps, tables, index

Vol. 16 , 2016

ISSN: 2234-9561

Print: 978-3-905758-60-3
PDF: 978-3-905758-82-3

Jennifer Hays , Vorwort von Willemien le Roux

Owners of Learning

The Nyae Nyae Village Schools over Twenty-Five Years


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This book describes the Nyae Nyae Village Schools, an innovative and unique mother-tongue education initiative set in north-eastern Namibia. Inspired by the optimism of Independence, the project was designed in close consultation with the Ju|’hoansi community in the early 1990s. Drawing upon their traditional knowledge transmission strategies, and initiated in a supportive political environment, the project exemplified ‘best practice’. During the two decades that have followed, the Village Schools have transitioned from a donor-supported ‘project’ to government schools, and have received much attention and support from donors, civil society organisations, and individuals. However, the students still do not seem to succeed in the mainstream schools. Why is this? Based on long-term fieldwork in the region, including interviews with Nyae Nyae residents over several years and work with involved organizations, this book addresses this question. Contextualizing the Village Schools within post-independence Namibia, southern African history and the global indigenous rights movement, it examines the enormous paradoxes that schooling presents for the Nyae Nyae community. ‘Owners of Learning’ is the English translation of the Ju|’hoansi word for ‘teacher’ and it serves to highlight a fundamental question – to whom does education belong?


Anthropologist Jennifer Hays has conducted fieldwork on education for indigenous communities in southern Africa since 1998, as an academic researcher and a consultant for local and international organizations. She has written extensively on education and indigenous rights, and organized international conferences on these topics. Her PhD in Anthropology focuses on the Nyae Nyae Village Schools, and she continues to visit and work with community annually. She is currently based at the University of Tromsø in Norway.