South Africa: Officials to probe school racism following segregation photo

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A picture showing black learners separated from white children in a class at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke went viral on social media. The class teacher, who took the picture, has been suspended.
Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Sibongile Mashaba

North West MEC for Education Sello Jonas Lehari was to lead a team of senior management to Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke to Thursday to investigate allegations of racism.

This after a photograph showing racial segregation in a Grade R classroom at the school. The image was allegedly taken on Wednesday and sent to a WhatsApp group by the class teacher to show parents that things were still going well on the first day of schooling.

The photograph shows a group of white learners sitting together while their four black classmates sit at a small table near the door.

Premier Job Mokgoro said he had noted with shock the images which were widely circulated, “depicting different seating spaces allegedly allocated for black and white learners” at the school.

“The matter has been brought to the attention of the provincial Department of Education who dispatched a team to the school to investigate as to what exactly happened.

“MEC for Education (Lehari) willlead a team comprising senior managers to the school who will also conduct an intensive investigation into the matter and action to be taken will be informed by the outcomes of these investigations,” Mokgoro’s spokesperson Vuyisile Ngesi said.

“The North West provincial government condemns any form of racism in the strongest possible terms and deeply regrets this unfortunate incident 25 years into the democratic dispensation,” Ngesi said.

A mother of one of the black learners was quoted as saying: “This was meant to be an exciting day for me but it’s not. All I saw was messages from the white parents saying ‘dankie, dankie’ (‘thank you, thank you’) on the WhatsApp group but no one was saying anything about the separation of the learners.”

The images caused a stir on social media with political parties weighing in on the matter.

Federal DA Youth leader Luyolo Mphithi condemned the incident, saying he would also visit the school.

“It is outrageous that a classroom in 2019 can be racially segregated, which only serves to teach young children from day one to see each other as different and separate. This is unconscionable.

“We hope that the school staff is ready and willing to address this issue immediately and to make a commitment to change outdated attitudes toward integration,” Mphithi said.

National Freedom Party spokesperson Sabelo Sigudu said government had failed to improve the quality of education in public schools, driving parents to take their children to private schools.

“These private school tendencies of segregating learners based on the colour of skin is against the principles of a democratic South Africa we live in today.

“We want to hold the government responsible for neglecting public and rural schools, as the result blacks including coloured and Indian people have no option but to take their children to such racist private schools for better education. This increased deterioration in public schools is directly leading the country to the apartheid era. This is barbaric.”

 

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Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

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