19 April 2016

#TRC20 report back: Teaching the TRC educators workshop

As part of the ongoing SAHA in the classroom workshop series for history educators, SAHA hosted a workshop on teaching (about) South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The workshop was hosted on Saturday 16 April at Constitution Hill, the day after the 20th anniversary of the first public hearings of the TRC.

The Battle Against Forgetting:Human Rights and the Unfinished Business of the TRC Publication

The TRC educator's workshop was an informative and interactive experience in which educators were able to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the TRC. Drawing on various archival materials currently on exhibit in the Ramparts at Constitution Hill, many of which are also reproduced in SAHA's exhibition catalogue "The Battle Against Forgetting: human rights and the unfinished business of the TRC", educators were able to explore and discuss the TRC and its existing effects in South Africa, and were introduced to various activities that educators could use in their lessons with their students.

The workshop kicked off with an introductory discussion on the history of the TRC and its difference and similarities to the Nuremburg trials, followed by small group discussions about some of the complex, sometimes conflicting concepts at the heart of transitional justice initiatives. Educators were able to examine the process of the TRC as well as discuss the way in which it was flawed. Educators shared their concerns about how victims of the apartheid-era continue to struggle to overcome the social, economic or institutional abuses of rights that were partially addressed by the TRC.

Educators were given the opportunity to learn more about the structure and workings of the TRC by watching extracts from the SABC's Truth Commission Special Report, currently on display within the exhibition space and to explore the rest of the SAHA exhibition "The Battle Against Forgetting" and the Human Rights Media Centre (HMRC) exhibition "Breaking the silence: a luta continua". What was interesting about this interaction with the exhibition, particularly body maps produced by members of the Western Cape branch of Khulumani Support Group in workshops with HMRC, was that educators were given a chance to explore the personal experiences of TRC victims, which allowed them to empathise with the victims and also have a deeper appreciation for their own human rights.The Battle Against Forgetting: Human Rights and the Unfinished Business of the TRC workshop 2016

The final activity which explored a selection of Zapiro TRC cartoons allowed SAHA and Michelle to end off the workshop in a successful yet thought provoking manner. The analysis of the Zapiro cartoons allowed educators to discover the journey of the TRC. Although the initial cartoons were filled with hope, Zapiro's cartoons later depict scepticism, which in turn represented the frustrations of most South Africans, who viewed the TRC as unsuccessful.

What this workshop aimed to do was to depict the journey of the TRC in various visual and textual archival materials from SAHA's archival collections to describe the process of the TRC, to understand more about how the unfinished business of the TRC is impacting on justice and accountability in contemporary South Africa, and to provide educators with materials and methodologies that would enable their learners to gain a better understanding of what the TRC means in terms of the past, present and future of the country.

Once the workshop ended, educators were then asked to complete an evaluation form where they could share their experiences concerning the workshop. Their comments are as follows:

"This was quite informative and an eye-opener!"

"I have learned a lot from this workshop because I was not aware of the reason why the TRC failed."

"The cartoons clearly explain the change of attitude towards the TRC."

SAHA archival intern Chavonne Cupido who participated in the workshop noted that:

" I found the studying of the Zapiro cartoons useful. It was an interactive activity that I believe will help students to analyse cartoons and the historic events that were linked to the TRC."


SAHA will be hosting this same workshop for educators on Saturday 7 May at Constitution Hill - RSVP online now to book your place. 


Learn more about SAHA's Battle against Forgetting: human rights & the unfinished business of the TRC exhibition catalogue and educational materials

Learn more about the launch of the SAHA and Human Rights Media Centre exhibitions currently on display at Constitution Hill

Visit the SAHA / SABC Truth Commission Special Report website to explore audiovisual records of the TRC public hearings

Find out more about SAHA's TRC Collections

Find out more about the other "Battle Against Forgetting" #TRC20 events taking place in April & May 2016

Learn more about the SAHA in the Classrooms programme

Find out more about Constitution Hill