Sans Souci racism row: MEC orders new code of conduct for school

2016-09-03 13:54

Pretoria – The department of education in the Western Cape has given Sans Souci High School one month to come up with a new code of conduct following protests and racism allegations.

"I want to see a new code of conduct by the end of September 2016, adopted by the governing body after an inclusive process has been followed," education MEC Debbie Schafer said in a statement.

(Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)

"Whilst I am fully aware that I do not determine schools' codes of conduct, I was of the view that it has taken so long for the policy to change to allow for cultural differences, that as long as the girls look neat there is nothing wrong with braids.

"I trust that this will form part of the discussion in formulating the new policy."

Schafer said Tau Matseliso, the deputy director general for institution development and co-ordination, would oversee the process with the district staff.

More than 100 pupils from various high schools in Cape Town protested at Sans Souci Girls' High School again on Friday after first joining countrywide protests against discriminatory school policies on Thursday.

Oppressive principal

In a memo read out by one of the student leaders they called for Charmaine Murray, principal of the school since 1999, to stand down.

A memo read out by the students stated: "Institutional violence and systemic racism enacted upon us by the school is not new. We have hidden our experiences in the kinks of our hair and swallowed the languages of our mothers into our throats. Mrs Murray we ask you to step aside.

"We have been berated by you and marginalised by you. You have enforced upon us the kind of structural violence that requires healing of the soul. You have characterised us as reminding you of the Ugandan gorillas you saw on safari and mocked our afros. You have been the gatekeeper of the school's oppression."

Schafer said she had asked a senior-level delegation from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to visit the school on Friday. The delegation comprised Matseliso; Clifton Frolick, chief director: districts; Sanette Nowers, director: metro central education district and Amanda Engelbrecht, the circuit manager.

"I subsequently joined the delegation to hear about the issues firsthand. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity for me and my officials to listen to the learners and for the learners to put forward their case to me and the department.

'Shocking allegations'

"I am extremely concerned about some shocking allegations that were brought to my attention yesterday. I am equally concerned that they say they sent a complaint to the department in 2011, which was seemingly not acknowledged and yielded no change," she said.

"I also acknowledge the fact that many learners fear being victimised as a result of their action this week. In the light of this, it was decided that the principal will not report to the school on Monday and that the school circuit manager, Ms Engelbrecht will be at the school to provide support and ensure that there is no victimisation.

"In addition, the WCED Safe Schools Directorate will arrange for counselling to be available for any learners who have been traumatised by the events this week and prior events," she said.

Schafer said the learners asked whether, on Monday, they could have braids in their hair.

"My response was that I see nothing wrong with braids as long as their hair is neat and tidy. I was also informed that the current group who are dealing with the new policy does not include one black African learner, despite the majority of learners at the school being black African.

"This is just unacceptable," she said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  racism  |  protests

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