Uproar at private Cape Town school after teacher tells pupils black children have no role models

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Protest at German International School in Cape Town. It is reported that the group protested against alleged racism at the education facility, where student protest was subjugated by school management.
Protest at German International School in Cape Town. It is reported that the group protested against alleged racism at the education facility, where student protest was subjugated by school management.
ER Lombard, Gallo Images
  • Parents and pupils are protesting at the school after a teacher made allegedly discriminatory remarks during a Life Orientation lesson.
  • A pupil claims it's not the first complaint against the teacher. 
  • The school says the teacher was suspended, but the pupil says her absence was blamed on "sickness".

Parents and pupils of private school, German International School Cape Town (Deutsche Schule Kapstadt), are protesting after a teacher told pupils that "black children do not have role models because their fathers are in jail and their mothers are prostitutes".

According to a pupil who asked to remain anonymous, the teacher made the comments during a Grade 11 Life Orientation class.

WATCH | Classes suspended at Witbank Technical High after parents clash over racism allegations

And it wasn't the first time she made discriminatory comments, the pupil alleged.

Now fed up pupils and their parents are protesting, calling for the teacher to be fired or to resign.

According to the pupil, who is an SRC member, the teacher was explaining a "social experiment" which involved 20 "low income" children who were sent to an exclusive school. According to the teacher, only three of the 20 pupils passed, he said.

WATCH | Cornwall Hill College: Racism is not about a black child rising, but white parents also standing up - parent

"She never cited any sources and then at the end, she said that only three of the students who were put into the school eventually passed because they have no role models," the pupil said.

He added: 

The main thing she said is that only three managed to pass, which she then blamed on the fact that they have no role models because their fathers are all locked up in prison and their mothers are all prostitutes. She was specifically referring [to the] 20 low income kids that were put in the school.

In his response to News24, headmaster Alexander P Kirmse said the incident happened as part of a discussion on Black Economic Empowerment.

He conceded that the remarks were considered discriminatory and added that the school's management temporarily suspended the teacher and initiated disciplinary proceedings against her, as required by the school's policy. 

"The disciplinary hearing was chaired by an external labour law expert and statements from the students and teacher were presented. Counselling was made available to the students. 

"The school has followed all the recommendations in the report compiled by the independent expert," Kirmse added.

He said diversity and inclusion were "integral and essential pillars" of the school and that the school condemned any discriminatory behaviour. 

"The [school] is committed to the dignified and fair treatment of everyone within the school community irrespective of colour, race, ethnic or national origin, language, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religious beliefs, conscience, pregnancy, family responsibility, marital or health status. 

"We do not tolerate any violations of these fundamental principles," Kirmse added.

News24 has seen a similar response in a statement to parents. 

READ | Cornwall Hill College: SAHRC to interview pupils over racism claims

The school called on parents, staff, and pupils to make appointments to see management in person if they require more comment and dialogue on the matter.

A follow-up query has been sent to the school for more details on the report and its findings. These details will be added once received.

But the pupil who spoke to News24 claimed that the teacher was suspended for a week and that her absence was blamed on "sickness".

"They never openly said she was suspended. And after that week, they said appropriate remedies or measures were taken then she was placed back in the school, which didn't help anything," he said.

The pupil added that pupils would continue to protest because they "don't feel safe in her class anymore" and weren't happy about her return.

"This has been going on for a while with this specific teacher. So it has become evident to the student body that no amount of counselling will work. So they are demanding that she either resigns or be removed," he said.

The pupil admitted that the school was transforming but said it was not enough and was happening "too slowly".

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