Local school in racial row over photograph

2019-07-29 12:39
The photograph that started the commotion at the school.

The photograph that started the commotion at the school.

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A race-related spat that started among teachers at Eastwood Primary School has filtered down to pupils, resulting in several physical fights at the school on Friday morning.

In a meeting between officials from the Education Department, teachers, members of the school’s governing body (SGB) and parents after the commotion in the morning, it was revealed that the uproar started after some of the coloured teachers at the school discovered that their faces, on a 2017 staff photograph, had drawing pins stuck into them.

The staff and management photographs were displayed on the noticeboard in the deputy principal’s office.

Several social media posts were being circulated calling for parents to hold a sit-in at the school on Friday morning to demand answers about who was responsible for inserting the drawing pins into the photographs.

By late Friday morning, Weekend Witness received frantic calls from parents complaining about a racial brawl at the school involving pupils and parents.

Speaking at the meeting, a member of the SGB said they had left the pupils unsupervised for an hour on Friday morning to have a meeting with parents, who had formed the sit-in, and teachers regarding the vandalised staff photograph.

“We as the SGB were trying to resolve the matter and tell teachers to work together and respect one another as we cannot have incidents like this at the school. That is almost bordering on evil really.”

racism at schools

The school’s management staff photograph with drawing pins on some of their faces. 

The SGB member said while they were at the meeting in the morning, the unsupervised pupils became rowdy and some started to fight with one another, calling for the coloured teachers and pupils to leave the school.

“At the meeting this morning I told the teachers that if this behaviour wasn’t dealt with it would filter down to the pupils, which is exactly what we witnessed after the meeting.

“The pupils were saying that the teachers whose faces were pinned with drawing pins must leave the school. I don’t know where these children got that information from,” he said.

Another parent said she was at work when she received a call from the school informing her that her daughter was very upset after she was hit by another pupil.

“The pupils started to physically attack one another. Several fights had to be broken up. It was basically racial attacks because the African kids were telling the coloured kids to leave the school because this was an African school,” said yet another parent.

Education Department official Thulasizwe Mvubu addressed the pupils on Friday morning following the spat and condemned their violent behaviour.

Mvubu later held another meeting with the parents and teachers where he criticised the school’s management for allowing pupils to be left unsupervised during the meeting but complimented them for intervening and trying to resolve the racial issues at the school.

Kwazi Mthethwa, spokesperson for the KZN Department of Education, said racism was not tolerated at their schools, whether perpetrated by pupils or teachers.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  racism at schools

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