Emergency measures in place at Schweizer-Reneke school

2019-01-14 08:20

The school governing body (SGB) of Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke has put security measures in place to ensure the safety of its learners and teachers on Monday morning, Netwerk24 reported

SGB chairperson Jozeph du Plessis told the publication on Sunday that the school would be open on Monday.

"We have put appropriate measures in place, but we won't divulge any details at this stage," Du Plessis reportedly said. 

This follows a racial row that rocked the sleepy North West town on Wednesday after a photo apparently depicting segregation in one of the school's Grade R classes went viral. 

In the picture, white and black learners are seated at separate tables. 

A group of protesters - mainly Economic Freedom Fighters members - converged on the school as North West Education MEC Sello Lehari conducted an inspection on Thursday, News24 reported

Teacher left town

The teacher who is alleged to have separated the children has been suspended.

It has been reported that the teacher has left the town.

While the SGB said the school was technically open on Friday, many parents kept their children at home.

The photo was posted on social media on Wednesday - the first day of the 2019 academic year - and soon became the centre of debate on racism and race relations, both in Schweizer-Reneke and SA at large.

On Thursday, more photos emerged, seemingly from the same set, showing the pupils sitting together.

Many parents have defended the teacher, saying she loved all of her pupils.

'Racism will never end'

A teacher from another school in the town told News24 that racism would never end in the area.

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) in the province said it was disturbed and perplexed by allegations of racism in the school.

"It is our firm view that schools, through its education ethos, have the role to instil values of dignity, respect, equality and tolerance for our learners.

"The union cannot be silent when there is a gross violation of rights of learners to receive equal treatment and education. Acts or practice of racism have no place in our society and cannot be tolerated 24 years into our democracy," read the union's statement.

The union called on the North West education department to extensively investigate these allegations and to extend the probe to other parts of the province.

Task team appointed

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) visited the school and met with Lehari and his team at the school on Thursday.

SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said the commission would work closely with the department to investigate the allegations. 

"Concurrent to this investigation, the provincial department of education will establish a task team to deal with transformation at the school and has invited the commission to participate in the task team.

"The commission is deeply concerned that instances of discrimination and related intolerance continue to take place within the school system. Schools are platforms for teaching and learning - not only a formal curriculum - but also fundamental value systems. While this trend in schools remains highly concerning, we should take this as an opportunity to engage on transformation and foster greater awareness," said Smith.

Read more on:    sadtu  |  sahrc  |  mahikeng  |  racism  |  education

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