MEC: Curro's behaviour disgusting and racist

2015-06-18 17:29
(Ahmed Areff, News24)

(Ahmed Areff, News24)

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Pretoria - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday called the behaviour of the controversial Curro Foundation School in Roodeplaat, near Pretoria, "racist" and "disgusting".  

This followed a video depicting school pupils being led off buses, apparently according to race, while on a field trip. White pupils waited near the front of car, while groups of other pupils, who appear to be black, were led off-screen in separate groups.

The group in front of the car were then led off-screen in a different direction.

While Lesufi did not directly express the sanctions he deemed fit for the school, investigated earlier this year for racial segregation, he had strong words for the management.

"I must emphasise I am disgusted... and the justification I am receiving from the school has affected my emotions," he told reporters outside the school.

"I don't understand if there is a single person who can justify racism."

According to eNCA, the school issued a statement denying the incident had anything to do with race, but was rather related to the pupils' language of instruction.

Spokesperson Mari Lategan released a statement reportedly saying "on June 3, a group of Grade R learners... went on an outing to Setshaba Safaris. Learners were transported in two buses, a 65-seater and a 30-seater.

"Three English classes were transported in the 65-seater... Two Afrikaans classes were transported in the 30-seater."

'Our children must play together'

Media waiting for Lesufi to visit the school on Thursday afternoon were barred from entering the premises to speak to school officials. However, after meeting the officials, Lesufi said he did not agree with the school's explanation of the events depicted in the video.

"We belong to this country, all of us. You can't wish any other race away. Our children must play together... I'm speaking about Grade R children here," he said.

"We must ensure non-racialism is imposed on racists. There is nothing wrong with imposing non-racialism... these are six-year-olds and they can play together. Even if it was separating them according to language, why were Tswanas and Xhosas not separated?

"The day we allow that to happen in our schooling environment, we are risking this country. If there are people who believe they want to live on their own, they must not live in our country."

He said a school response that undermined the Constitution should not be tolerated.

"The person that crafted that response on behalf of this company, that particular person must know... they are worsening the situation," Lesufi said.

"I hate racism with a passion, but I am addicted to non-racialism and anyone who will cross the line, will suffer the consequences. I really believe this institution has crossed the line."

He said a team from the department had gone to the school earlier and compiled a report.

"On the basis of the report, we prepared a letter we wanted to present to the management of Curro. Unfortunately the person who is inside here now is not a senior person to accept the letter.

"Because of the seriousness of the content of the letter, I felt I had to consult the national Minister of Basic Education and the investors of Curro so they understand why I have taken the decision I have taken."

No black teachers

He said the school leadership still had to receive the letter. Once he had consulted the minister and the Curro investors, he would be able to reveal the letter's content. Asked if he would revoke the school's license, Lesufi said he would make the letter public later.

He said questions to the principal indicated there were no black teachers among the 65-strong staff.

"There is a certain race that says we can't be taught by another race. Should we accept that and tolerate that? Not under my leadership. Whether they are a private, public or semi-private school is neither here nor there. I am the MEC of Education."

This is second time the school has been under scrutiny for alleged racial segregation. On May 14 an investigation determined the school segregated Grade R pupils according to race after being pressurised by white parents.

The investigation, conducted by Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys, followed complaints received in January that some classes consisted only of black learners and that white learners were grouped together separately. At the time Lesufi said the findings confirmed the allegations with Curro management backing them up.

Management admitted this was due to pressure from certain white parents.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education  |  racism
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