School segregation report ‘shows persistence of racism’

2015-01-30 08:14

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Johannesburg - Reports of racial segregation at a private school in Pretoria are a shocking indication of the persistence of racism in post-apartheid South Africa, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said on Friday.

"Schools are meant to be laboratories of nation-building, not enclaves of outdated apartheid thinking," the foundation's director Neeshan Balton said in a statement.

"The justification of needing to enable learners to maintain their cultures is exactly the kind of arguments put forth to justify apartheid, and has no scientific or educational basis," he said.

Balton congratulated the parents for refusing to accept the "separate but equal" arguments put forth by the school management.

Eyewitness News reported on Thursday that Curro Roodeplaat Private School had been accused of assigning pupils to classes based on their race.

Petition signed by parents

According to the report, almost 30 parents at the school reportedly signed a petition demanding an explanation from the school.

Regional manager at Curro Holdings, André Pollard, denied that 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 the broadcaster.

Dr Chris van der Merwe, CEO of Curro Holdings, told News24 on Thursday that people were under the mistaken impression that there were separate white and black classes.

"On day one, when the school opened, the principal sat with six white children in Grade R, and put them in a class where there are 12 black children, so this class was perfectly integrated.

"Enrolments got bigger after the school year started and another six white children enrolled. The principal allocated them to different classes to spread them equally," Van der Merwe explained.

Van der Merwe told Radio 702 pupils were integrated across various grades.

"This is done in a manner that fosters a secure learning environment in which all learners can flourish. This principle applies equally across all Curro schools," he said.

Accessible education

Van der Merwe said that Curro collectively had about 36 000 pupils in their 42 schools, and that 63% of these pupils were black.

"Our philosophy has always been and will continue to be to create accessible education to South Africans from all backgrounds."

Listen to 702's interview with Van der Merwe here:

The department of education on Thursday expressed concern over the issue and said it would send officials to the school on Friday to ascertain "what happened, how it happened, who was involved and what appropriate steps should be taken," said Phumla Sekhonyane at the time.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  racism

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