'Courageous conversations' necessary to fight racism at schools: former principal

09 April 2018 - 11:10 By Anthea Cereseto
Former headmistress reflects on her school's journey to social cohesion and equality. File photo.
Former headmistress reflects on her school's journey to social cohesion and equality. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

My 25 years as a secondary-school principal coincided with the years in which previously white schools became increasingly diverse.

Schools were positioned to teach and model the democratic values of the constitution, such as equality, dignity, freedom, non-racialism and non-sexism.

Historically, schools had not been very good at any of these.

I reflect with mixed emotions on the road we walked while constructing it. I am embarrassed by actions of the early years stemming from unacknowledged white privilege, ignorance and absence of empathy.

For example, former white schools deemed it appropriate to conduct admission tests to “allow” learners into public schools.

These actions demonstrated extreme arrogance and ignorance of appropriate conduct in a constitutional democracy.

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