BLM: Here's how SA pupils and alumni have called out racism & taken a stand

11 June 2020 - 08:35
By Cebelihle Bhengu
Bishops in Cape Town is one of the schools that has been accused of racism.
Image: Esa Alexander Bishops in Cape Town is one of the schools that has been accused of racism.

Scores of SA youths have shared their experiences of racism allegedly at the hands of former teachers and schools. This as many across the globe are taking a stand against racial discrimination after the death of African American George Floyd.

Here's how SA pupils and former pupils have taken back their power by speaking up against racism.

Durban Girls College — KwaZulu-Natal

Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said a task team would investigate allegations of racism levelled against some teachers at Durban Girls' College. It will comprise some school board members, while deputy director-general of the department Dr Judy Dlamini will talk to the girls and help the school ensure that incidents don't happen.

This followed a petition launched by former pupil Thabisa Mangisa titled “Hold DGC accountable for racism”. Thousands signed it and shared their stories about alleged racial discrimination.

School head Marianne Bailey said the school takes the allegations seriously and is determined to improve matters, TimesLIVE reported.

St Anne's Diocesan College 

The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands school said it was formulating a response after former and current pupils spoke about their experiences in a public letter titled “Wake Up, St Anne's”.

From being called baboons, experiencing intimidation and having their hair referred to as “birds nests”,  over 40 women and girls laid bare their accounts of perceived racial discrimination in the public document.

School principal Dave Arguile told TimesLIVE he was consulting with the school's legal team and would formulate a response as soon as it is available. In a statement released by the school, he asked the public to share in writing policy ideas which will be considered for the school's “transformation journey”.

Diocesan College

A group of 100 matric pupils from the Cape Town boy's private school, better known as Bishops, staged a peaceful protest on Friday against racism and other forms of discrimination.

A memorandum of demands handed to the school by the group included that teachers be prohibited from using racial slurs such as the N-word and K-word.

School principal Guy Pearson told TimesLIVE that the school continues to work hard towards ensuring that all pupils feel welcome regardless of “race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability”.

“This has included the development of a transformation and diversity policy, social sustainability document, and an anti-discrimination policy. We have engaged with boys, staff and parents in various forums and focus groups, the aim being to give a voice to minorities in our school.”

Herschel Girls' School

Former Herschel pupil Emmanuelle Tshala launched an online petition a week ago, calling for an end to “silencing of black voices”, and “lack of inclusivity”, among other things.

“Regardless of how long ago one might have experienced racial discrimination, the trauma remains fresh. We cannot allow history to repeat itself in the very same institution that teaches us that it should not.”

The petition has been signed by over 6,000 pupils and alumni. In its response, the school invited alleged victims to “communicate with us on how to do things better and to be part of this change strategy”, TimesLIVE reported.