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Team to probe racism claims at Northern Cape High School

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Jack stated that over the recent weeks, allegations of incidents relating to racism had emerged, especially at Northern Cape High School, which he stated were of great concern to him.

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Education, Mac Jack, has established a team consisting of senior managers in his department to investigate allegations of racism at Northern Cape High School in Kimberley.

The MEC made the announcement at a media briefing yesterday afternoon following a meeting with the school management team, the governing body and the affected parents.

Jack stated that over the recent weeks, allegations of incidents relating to racism had emerged, especially at Northern Cape High School, which he stated were of great concern to him.

“Parents have brought the incidents to my attention, which involves an educator and the others between fellow pupils,” said Jack.

The incident, which was reported in a weekly newspaper, regards a 14-year-old girl who was allegedly racially attacked by a teacher at the school. According to the report, the teacher allegedly insulted a group of pupils, stating that they were making a noise like dogs. The teacher then allegedly continued to embarrass the pupil involved further.

The principal of the school, Mrs Joan Venter, who apologised at yesterday’s press conference, confirmed that there was only one teacher and one pupil involved in the allegations of racism. 

“We are very sorry,” she stated. “We don’t want to be labelled as a racist school. We have leaders of colour, in fact so many of our achievers are of colour. We embrace diversity at our school.” 

Jack, who confirmed that the teacher involved had not been suspended by the department, stated that there would be an investigation and action would be taken if necessary. 

“These three or four incidents might be a manifestation of racism at this school but we cannot jump the process until we have investigated.”

He added, however, that the pupils involved had been instructed that if anything happened to them, they needed to report it to the department.

“We commend the pupils who were brave enough to report what happened and their parents who elevated the matter to the department. There is no way we will allow these pupils to be negatively affected – we must nip this thing in the bud before it goes further.”

Jack added that the team appointed to investigate would report back to him in 21 days.

“On January 15, the first day of school, I will also address the school on racism and nation building to set the tone at the beginning of the academic year. No bullying will be tolerated, no drugs and no racism will be allowed.”

He stated further that the school would also be expected to implement a programme to unite the pupils. “They must be taught what it means to be a human being and teachers, if found to be guilty of racism, must be dealt with seriously. There is no way that a person who is supposed to be preparing a child for the future should be racist.

“We do hope that our meeting with the school management team, the school governing body and affected parents of Northern Cape High School will bring about the desired change.

“We do not want to witness these occurrences in our schools because here we are preparing our citizens of tomorrow. We need to see each other as human beings and not as the colour of their skin.”

Jack added that he believed teachers had a role to play in bringing about a society where there was no discrimination. 

“We understand the impact of the past, but the past is the past. We forgive but we cannot forget.”

Jack said programmes would be implemented at schools in the Province that discouraged and eradicated racism.