‘Black demons’ slur irks Kathrada Foundation

2014-06-04 12:03

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has expressed concern over claims of racism at a Johannesburg art school.

“Schools are supposed to be at the centre of transformation because they have the potential to inculcate the principles of nonracialism and equality within children,” foundation director Neeshan Balton said in response to an incident at the National School of Arts.

To prevent future racial incidents, teachers should be trained on issues of race and transformation, he said.

The Star reported yesterday that a Grade 8 history teacher allegedly called black people “demons” and told her class last Thursday that the reason government was failing was because it was led by black people.

Balton said the fact that the teacher taught history made the incident more concerning.

“History, and the understanding and teaching thereof, is a key component of interpreting our past and current processes of change,” he said.

“If a history teacher – who one would assume has sufficient knowledge of the horrors of racism and apartheid – makes such comments, then we should be gravely concerned.”

While political commentary and critical reflection were acceptable in academic institutions, these had to be based on rational and intellectual foundations.

Balton commended a pupil at the school who reported the alleged racism to her mother.

The newspaper reported that a 13-year-old girl SMSed her mother saying the teacher was out of order for telling the class that black people were stupid for voting for the ANC and that in the Western Cape, people were “more than happy” with the DA “thanks to white people”.

“This is the type of courage that is needed to combat the scourge of racism in our society,” Balton said.

“Young people should not accept it if a teacher expresses discriminatory views in a classroom. It should not be tolerated.”

He urged the education department and the school governing body to take a strong stance against the teacher if she was found guilty of racism.

The Gauteng education department said the alleged incident was being investigated, while the school said its governing body would make a statement in due course.

The DA in Gauteng yesterday called on the SA Human Rights Commission to investigate claims of racism at the school.

“The DA in Gauteng has written to the Human Rights Commission to investigate the allegation of a racist teacher,” said party MPL Khume Ramulifho.

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