Holocaust Remembrance 2017: Educating for a better future

On 7 February 2017, UNIC Windhoek observed the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. High School students from Jan Mohr Secondary School, particularly those specializing in History, attended the day long event held at the United Nations House in Klein Windhoek.

UNIC Windhoek set up its annual Holocaust Exhibition in the foyer and the UN Library since 27 January, and welcomed visitors to view and reflect on this years poster set themed, the “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda”.

The students walked through the exhibit in their own time and were ushered to the venue where the UNIC team led a two learning discussion on the Holocaust. Students unpacked and brainstormed the meaning of some key phrases, such as “Human Rights,” “Genocide,” “Holocaust,” “Racism,” etc. They reported back to the group and the UNIC team were taken aback at how knowledgeable the youngsters were.

The posters were an important backdrop providing a platform for an interactive learning – the UNIC team took the group back to the exhibition and carefully guided them through each poster. Each poster provided ample opportunity for discussion and questions were jotted down for the last part of the programme.
UNIC Windhoek produced a summary of the Holocaust for each student to take along, and provided a branded notebook, which was used throughout the programme. The last section of the programme required the students to reflect on the uniqueness of their fingerprints, and spare a thought to the millions of unique individuals who lost their lives. They undertook a project on a prepared canvas, placing their fingerprints in the shape of a tree – as a symbol of hope for the future generation.

After a meaningful afternoon of learning and discussing the students debated on propoganda and dictatorship and shared their views and suggestions. Mrs Haitembu, the teacher in attendance expressed her gratitude for the meaningful learning initiative, she said that such events are vital as it covers a chapter in the Namibia grade 12 history curriculum.

Reflecting on the Holocaust helps support the development of critical thinking of students. It brought to the fore the issue of propaganda, how to detect it in particular. The students were able to mention other genocides as well – highlighting their understanding of the terms we endeavoured to teach.