In its essence, Heritage month and day embraces and celebrates the true meaning of why South Africans are referred to as the Rainbow Nation.
"There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Heritage Day, what matters most is that we take the time to celebrate our South Africanness." said President Cyril Ramaphosa during his keynote speech at this years Heritage Day programme.
For learners, the day means that they get to proudly dress up in their cultural attire or traditional regale and wear it to school. It is a day where they get to express themselves and embrace their cultural values and traditions amongst their classmates.
Studies suggests that children who learn about different cultures during their education are encouraged to interact in a wider range of social groups and feel more confident in themselves as well as in their interactions with others.
It is not just an opportunity for learners to wear certain attire, but it also exposes them to a diverse range of opinions, thoughts, and cultural backgrounds, and in doing so it encourages them to be more open-minded and appreciative.
In an interview with The Careers Portal, a teacher at Diaz Primary School in Mossel Bay expressed that it is important celebrate and uphold heritage and culture at schools so that learners know where they come from.
The week leading up to Heritage Day, learners are usually given a task to go home and find out from their elders the different traditions, what it means and where it comes from. They then get to showcase it at the school's Heritage Day programme by dressing up and making posters.
It is important to remember that diversity and cultural awareness is so crucial in the classroom and the benefits it can have on learners now and in the future, she adds.
Upholding the meaning of Heritage Day at schools promotes awareness, it creates a connection between learners with diverse cultures and it helps learners gain a more comprehensive understanding on other cultures.
A Grade 5 teacher, at Diaz Primary School, says that learners do not always get the opportunity at home or in their community to talk about their heritage, whereas at school, even though it is just a dress up day they get to show their pride in their culture and heritage.
She explains that in the schools’ Life Skills curriculum, they discuss and talk about different heritage and cultures and that the learners are usually excited to share how things are done in their families or where certain festivities are being held.
It is good to celebrate it at school, children have a sense of belonging and it gives them an opportunity to share their ideas. Our curriculum covers a few interesting points as well.
Both culture and heritage is something that all people share, no matter where you grow up, where you go, your culture and heritage will always be something you can take with you.