Business forum alerted department to racial tensions at Eldorado school: Lesufi

12 October 2017 - 16:03 By Naledi Shange
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem

The racial tensions which flared up at Eldorado’s Klipspruit West High School were first brought to the attention of the Gauteng Department of Education by a business forum operating in the area‚ Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed on Thursday.

He said they had received a letter from the forum requesting clarity on how the incoming principal had been appointed and why another candidate had been overlooked for the position.

Addressing a panel from the SA Human Rights Commission‚ Lesufi said this was the “first red flag” as a body which was supposed to have had no influence in the school had voiced its concern and questioned departmental processes.

After this first letter‚ the department received several other letters from community organisations and the school governing body of the school.

Addressing the panel‚ Lesufi said it was imperative that the appointment of school principals should happen under proper channels.

He stressed that officials should be careful to adhere to the processes and appoint people on their ability to do the job. They should not allow external voices with different interests to influence their decisions.

Klipspruit West Secondary School made headlines after community members shut it down‚ rejecting its newly appointed black principal. The community members had demanded that a coloured principal be appointed. They also made accusations of financial mismanagement at the school.

An uproar erupted against five black teachers who besides allegedly insulting learners‚ were also accused of bunking classes. Lesufi said he simply could not dismiss those teachers as they needed to investigate the allegations. “Accusing someone doesn’t mean they are guilty‚” he said.

Lesufi clarified issues regarding the appointment process which were used to select the principal who was later rejected by the community members.

“Do you have black principals in previously white areas? Do you have white principals in Soweto?” asked Jones.

“I have got competent principals that are running schools in Gauteng‚” said Lesufi.

He stressed that he did not want principals getting the impression that they were appointed on the basis of their skin colour. Lesufi said they had a fair representation of race and gender in principals across the province but more could still be done.

He said there were still schools where the entire learner population was black but the entire teacher population was white or vice versa. - TimesLIVE