Political parties accused of contributing to racism in schools

SAY No to racism poster
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The recent alleged racism incidents in schools in the North West have reignited a call for investigation into discrimination in the basic education system across the country.

This is after teaching and learning was disrupted on the first week of the 2019 academic year at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke and Hoerskool Stilfontein following reports of racism.

Education Analyst from the University of South Africa (UNISA) Professor Lesiba Teffo has attributed the growth of racial incidents to political parties.

Tefo’s response follows reports of preferential treatment of white learners over blacks at Hoerskool Stilfontein as well separating learners according to colour at Schweizer Reneke. He says political parties compound the situation by using this to score points rather than fixing the problem.

“As you have seen yourself, what is it that the political leadership is doing to lessen the situation? In their condemnation of racism, they end up dividing and polarising the society more instead of seeking solutions or helping the school, helping the children, helping the society to deal with this challenge, which we will never ever illuminate. I argue because it’s a human condition. We must learn to content with that. As parents, we fail children, as political leadership we fail society; we must find ways and needs without pretending that we are holier than any other person.”

Members of different political formations, the EFF, Forum For Service Delivery and ANC and its alliance formations, picketed at both school demanding action from the provincial Department of Education.

At Stilfontein, learners say though they all fared poorly in exams, only their white counterparts were progressed to the next grade.

EFF Member of Provincial Legislature, Thabo Sehloho says they are worried about the exposure to racism to young people.

“There is serious racism that is taking place, but we are worried about the young people that they are exposed to racism that is taking place here. So, we are here because we want to send a clear message to this lazy MEC of North West, who failed to attend to this matter of racism across the province. It is not only this school that is experiencing racism.”

On the streets elsewhere in the country, mixed feelings were picked up regards the reactions following the picture that went viral showing the Grade R learners at Schweizer-Reneke.

“What happened at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke really hurt us, but is not all of them. Like we are working in front of this shop here and it is owned by white people and we have a good relationship.

“If the adults could have just waited for the MEC of Education just to finish the investigations then we would have a whole wider picture of really what happened, because, you know, not all white or black people are always bad. So, you are not going to resolve problem if you just going to hate on everyone.”

Meanwhile, teachers union SADTU Provincial Chairperson, Mxolisi Bomvana says the union is calling on the Education Department to establish a transformation team that will investigate allegations of racism in all schools.