Victory for Free State learners

By Drum Digital
24 July 2014

Staff called them racist, derogatory, and belittling names, such as "kaffirs, baboons, monkeys, and little black bitches".

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) investigated allegations that pupils at a school in the Free State experienced dehumanising and racist treatment  from school staff and the principal.

The issue was reported and taken up by the SAHRC in May 2013.

"The commission found against the principal and staff at Dr Viljoen Combined School in a racism case," SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said.

Children at the school alleged staff called them racist, derogatory, and belittling names, such as "kaffirs, baboons, monkeys, and little black bitches".

Mangena said the commission found the remarks clearly constituted hate speech as defined by the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

"These acts of hate speech constitute a clear violation of both the right to equality and human dignity of the learners," he said.

The school failed to create a learning environment free from harmful elements, such as racist utterances and demeaning remarks. This further violated both the right to education and children's rights.

The commission made a number of recommendations for the school and the Free State education department.

The school  governing body has had to establish policies and guidelines to counter racism and submit them to the SAHRC for review.

The school and department are expected to increase teachers' and pupils' understanding of racism while the department is to train school staff to value diversity, understand other cultures and develop strategies to counter racism, all within six months.

Free State education spokesman Howard Ndaba said the department had received the commission's report and was studying it.

The school's principal was not available for comment.

-TIMESLIVE

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