Our children are colour-blind: Curro parents

2015-02-02 15:25
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Pretoria - Parents whose children were racially segregated at the Curro Roodeplaat Private School in Pretoria on Monday said their children were not aware of race.

"My son doesn't know colour," said one parent, Ntombi Khumalo.

"I want it to stay that way. He must just see kids as kids."

She claimed her child, in Grade 1, had not told her he was in a class with black children only, while another class mostly consisted of white children.

She had heard the matter from other concerned parents.

"It was not always like this," Khumalo said, adding that she had two children in the school.

"When my child was here last year in Grade R, they were integrated."

She was unsure what had brought about the change.

Two weeks ago, a group of black parents signed a petition against the school, claiming they were unhappy that their children were in one class, and white children in another.

Last week, regional manager at Curro Holdings, Andre Pollard, denied the school was racially segregating its pupils.

"It is not because we would like to segregate the whites, it is just because of friends. Children are able to make friends with children of their culture," he told Eyewitness News.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited the school on Monday. Addressing reporters at the school, he said what had happened could not be justified.

"Private schools are not immune to laws of this country," he said.

"As from tomorrow, no child will be discriminated against on the base of their colour. No child will be discriminated against on the base of their culture," said Lesufi.

No compromises would be made.

"Initially, when I read the report [about the parent's complaints], I wanted to revoke the school's licence," Lesufi said.

"I have the powers to do that.

"I hate racism with passion. I'm addicted to non-racialism. I will not allow a Grade R learner to be reminded of apartheid. I will not allow any child to be reminded of where we come from."

He issued an apology on behalf of the school.

"The school embraces and accepts that they've made a mistake and they will rectify it," Lesufi said.

Waiting for apology

Another parent, Nomfundo Zimu, said she was waiting for the school's public apology.

"The school needs to apologise to us as well as the country as a whole because this has affected a lot of people," Zimu said.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) welcomed Monday's proceedings.

"The SAHRC welcomes the commitment made this morning by Curro's leadership and [will] continue to monitor the commitment made by the school," the commission's Nicola Whattaker said.

Meanwhile, Lesufi listed several changes that could be implemented at the school, including the introduction of African languages as a subject.

The school, which currently only has white staff, would also introduce black teachers.

COO of Curro, Andries Greyling, said there were several reasons why the school did not have black teachers. Location was one of them, he said.

Curro Roodeplaat was on the banks of the Roodeplaat Dam, on the outskirts of Pretoria.

The outcry from parents whose children attend the school on Monday prompted Lesufi to meet all principals of private schools within the next two weeks to introduce a transformation charter.

He intended to order a review of private education in the province.

If the matter went beyond Gauteng, a meeting would be scheduled with education MECs from other provinces to address the matter, Lesufi said.

He expected to receive the Gauteng private school's review, to be conducted by a single, independent person, before Youth Day on 16 June.

This was the anniversary of the 1976 protests in Soweto against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools, during which scores of children were shot dead.

Read more on:    curro  |  pretoria  |  education  |  racism

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