Illiteracy in San community a cause for concern
MORE than 60 percent of the San community in the country can neither read nor write with a significant number of the school-going children dropping out for various reasons, chief among them being discrimination from teachers and classmates.
This comes amid fears that both the language and culture risk possible extinction. The latest revelations came out of livelihoods, land and human rights report of the San community in the country that was launched in Bulawayo last week.
The research was jointly funded by the University of Zimbabwe, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
Statistics show that there are 2 000 San people in Zimbabwe with 457 found in Plumtree, eight in Matobo and 1 165 in Tsholotsho. According to the report, in Tsholotsho district which has the largest population of the San in the country only 39,6 percent of the total San household members were able to read and write.
“Of the 149 households surveyed, only nine heads of households considered that all the members of their household over 10-years of age were literate, in other words had reading or writing skills. This is in contrast to the high national literacy rate in Zimbabwe and the 2012 Census average rate of 93 percent literacy for Tsholotsho District.
“Educational attainment among the San community is low among both adults and children, and presents a serious challenge. More than half of the female respondents reported having no education, and very few women have education above primary level. Parents indicated that their children were occasionally discriminated against in schools, and the children were also sometimes subjected to bullying by their peers and to corporal punishment by teachers and administrators,” reads the report.
The report stated that the high dropout rate from school, among the San, resulting in low levels of qualifications necessary for getting jobs in the formal economy of Zimbabwe.
Another point of concern raised in the report was that just four percent of the San both male and female attended secondary school, compared to the National Census figures which put the figure at 31 percent.
“Critically 41,2 percent of children of a school-going age were reported as not attending schools. Of those children who had attended school and dropped out, rather than never having attended school, 55 cases were documented, indicating the point when the child dropped out.
“These drop out points ranged between Form One and Four, with median of Form Two. A selection of possible non-attendance and drop-out causes common to San children across Southern Africa were given with the proportions with more than 50 percent answering that it was cost related,” reads the report.
In analysing the findings, the researchers noted that the San had been stereotyped over the years, with the inaccurate notion that they resisted civilisation hence were not interested in attaining any form of education.
“A common but mistaken perception of San peoples in Zimbabwe is that they do not wish to participate in education and that they “resist civilisation”. In fact, most San parents we met understood the importance of education and encouraged their children to attend school; however, our data indicated that more than half of the school-aged children were not attending school.
“In many cases, parents and other adults stated that they want their children to be educated in schools. However, few San raise a significant income with which to pay school fees, alongside other deterrent issues including long distances to schools, social issues such as teenage pregnancy and truancy, and a lack of appropriate curriculums in schools,” reads the report.