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Interns to shed light on SA’s history

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
Intern historians have a golden opportunity to gain skills and shed some light on the history of South Africa as part of the first South African History Online (SAHO) Graduate Development Programme.

The first batch of 10 graduates is already a part of the programme.

Speaking at the launch of the intern programme at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town recently, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said he hoped many of the interns would go on to become researchers, who will help to shed light on the history of the country and region.

Enhance skills

“I hope the SAHO interns will be able to use their experience to enhance their skills and insights as historians and go on to become teachers of History in our universities, colleges and schools.”

He said a large volume of history was left untold or told from one perspective. South African history had to be rewritten and researched. The minister told the young SAHO interns that they were lucky to work in an area of expertise that they loved.

The programme is a partnership between the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Training Authority and SAHO.

The programme was designed for students to gain work experience in research and for graduates to become familiar with the use of the web as a tool for research. This would contribute to the development of content for the website. Various university departments approached SAHO to place students to acquire skills and work experience by doing archival research.

Online archive

The internship runs for six months and graduates are from universities in the Western Cape. Their responsibilities include researching South African history and building an online archive of documents, images and other audio-visual resources.

They will contribute to the web-design process and digitise documents and visual images for online resources and more.

“This project must not only seek to write his- tory and to reinterpret the past in new exciting and relevant ways. It should also work towards rejuvenating an interest and a love of history in our society,” the minister said.

The economy desperately needs engineers, scientists and those with certain business skills. This, however, did not mean that South African or world history, literature, philosophy and sociology should be neglected, he added.

Minister Nzimande said that his department had announced its intention to establish a National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

It would help fund a number of catalytic research projects, which would stimulate debate and further research.