Teachers sent for diversity training

2013-10-11 00:00

THE South African Human Rights Commission has ordered the principal of a Chatsworth school to send his staff for diversity and sensitivity training after racist remarks had polarised the school.

The Department of Education has also been told to monitor the progress of Savannah Park Combined School in respect of racial transformation and integration.

African pupils and teachers reported incidents of racism to the KZN Department of Education who investigated the claims between April and December 2011.

The report was handed to the Human Rights Commission in May last year. A 52-page investigation report signed by commissioner Lindiwe Mokate was submitted to the Department of Education portfolio committee on Tuesday.

The report found that Indian teachers had referred to African pupils as “monkeys” and “baboons”, and to African teachers as “dogs”.

This, while the Indian teachers said African teachers called them “amakula” and convened meetings exclusively for African teachers.

The report found that the racial composition of the school management team and SGB was not proportionate to the number of African pupils in 2012.

It was further reported that an Indian teacher had said that she would not touch the bodies of African pupils during a search because she felt that this would dirty her hands.

Another Indian teacher referred to African girl pupils as his “wife” — the commission found the statement inappropriate.

According to the report, seven teachers resigned in a short period of time and only two had been replaced.

The commission said the use of the words “monkeys”, “baboons”, “dogs” and “amakula” were a violation of the dignity of an individual as enshrined in the Constitution and described their use as hurtful speech.

Some of the pupils had reported these incidents to their parents and told them they were traumatised.

“The panel has observed some discouraging trends which demonstrate the challenge of discrimination and intergroup conflict at the level of covert relationships rather than overt actions,” the report said.

“Perhaps most disturbing, however, is the fact that the current case is situated in an institution of learning, where its most affected victims are children,” it concluded.

Other recommendations include: the principal, Asogan Naicker, provide short-term professional coaching to enhance staff cohesion, diversity and sensitivity training; the SGB must have information sessions to sensitise parents and teachers.

The newly appointed SGB chairperson Mr Govender (he only divulged his surname) said he was not aware of these issues, but would look to have a meeting with the principal to discuss them.

Naicker said he was not permitted to speak to the media when contacted by The Witness.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the head of department will also table some of the recommendations that they will look into. He said any form of defamation and discrimination would not be tolerated. “We spent lots of time in the school last year attending to the issues that the school is facing,” he said.

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