HRC to probe ‘racism’ reports at school

2009-09-10 00:00

MEMBERS of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) will visit Scottsville Primary School today to investigate allegations that racism drove Nduduzo Qulo (13) to hang himself on Sunday.

The HRC issued a statement yesterday raising the question of whether racial integration policies are being effectively implemented in South African schools. The HRC urged all its stakeholders to revisit its report on “Racism, Racial Integration and Desegration in South African Public Secondary Schools” to see whether they are effectively implemented.

This follows allegations of racially motivated mistreatment of the Scottsville pupil who hanged himself on Sunday because he was apparently unhappy with his teacher and the news that he would have to return to the school next year.

In a statement issued yesterday, the commission expressed its concern over reports that Nduduzo may have hanged himself as a result of bad treatment from a “racist and abusive teacher”.

“It is very disturbing that the school environment continues to be characterised by racial discrimination … Some educators apparently still exhibit little or no commitment to constructing a learning environment free from discrimination and prejudice,” the statement read.

The report the commission refers to calls for the establishment of an anti-discrimination policy in each school and the provision of anti-discrimination training for district officials, governing bodies, teachers and pupils.

It also calls for the anti-racist teaching practices to be made a compulsory component of both the pre-service and in-service programmes for education and training of teachers.

The commission said it is investigating complaints lodged against a Mpumalanga school principal who allegedly called one of his pupils a “black animal”.

The Witness has been flooded with comments from readers divided on the manner in which the story has been reported.

One group felt the reports were unfair to the teacher, with one saying the teacher is being kicked while down, while another group felt it a “shame” that racism is being defended.

One person blamed the mother for shifting the blame, asking why she sent her son to live in a boarding home if he was unhappy and depressed.

But another commented that countless children have had racist experiences at the school.

The school has been gagged by the department from talking to the media and all queries are expected to be addressed to the department.

Department spokeswoman Mbali Thusi yesterday said the investigating team should be allowed to do its work.

The Witness had asked whether similar allegations had been lodged against the school in the past and why the school was not allowed to state its case.

It also tried to establish the school’s demographic profile of pupils, teachers and the school governing body, but the department would not provide these details.

Thusi said parents who would like to report any incidents or information can do so in writing by faxing the district manager at 033 342 4481.

MEC Senzo Mchunu on Tuesday described Nduduzo’s death as tragic, adding that if the child’s death was linked to “a tiff with an educator, you immediately feel guilty”. He was speaking to The Witness after his visit to the child’s mother.

Members of the commission will visit the school today and issue a statement on their findings.

They have made a commitment to monitor how the department’s investigation progresses.

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