MEC promises that children at Schweizer-Reneke primary school will be safe when it reopens

2019-01-16 15:56
Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke is caught in a race row after a photo a teacher took of a Grade 1 class showed black and white learners sitting separately.

Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke is caught in a race row after a photo a teacher took of a Grade 1 class showed black and white learners sitting separately. (Chekwane Tladi)

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North West education MEC Sello Lehari has assured parents concerned about their children's safety at the Schweizer-Reneke primary school where allegations of racism have surfaced that learning will resume fully on Friday morning.

Following heightened tensions at the school, police have been deployed to patrol outside the premises.

"We have put measures in place to monitor the situation and have been informed by the SGB (school governing body) that there are threats to burn the school," Lehari said.

READ: More tension as parents and security guards clash outside Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke

He assured parents that police would remain deployed to ensure that children could come to school without fear.

The measures were put in place after a photograph of black and white Grade R pupils seated separately went viral on social media last week, sparking outrage.

Teacher Elana Barkhuizen, who took the picture, was suspended after the image emerged. Another teacher who allegedly separated the children remains at the school.

On Wednesday a parent asked the MEC for a guarantee that things would go back to normal. They claimed they were intimidated when they brought their children to school.

"The SGB is arranging a meeting where we will address all parents and learners [to ensure them] that their safety is guaranteed," said Lehari.

Pupils, parents to receive counselling

Another parent said the incident at the school was unfortunate as it portrayed white people as racists. He said they felt left out in the entire process as parents.

"We are investigating racism in all schools here in totality. As soon as our investigations are completed we will provide you with the report. We are taking this matter very seriously. We want your co-operation in fixing the situation," said Lehari.

He promised to provide all pupils as well as parents with counselling.

Thabiso Maolwane, whose child was among the four children who were photographed sitting at a separate desk, said he was delighted that the MEC had promised them counselling.

He said he didn't see anything wrong with the picture.

"The school explained to me that the separation was a temporary thing and black children would be reintegrated with white children later.

"I am not happy with the suspension of Elana Barkhuizen because later that day, I saw a different picture where children were mixed together.

"At first I thought my child's rights were violated until I saw the second picture," he said.

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Read more on:    mahikeng  |  racism  |  education

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