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‘We will fight racism at school’

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“The differences between you do not matter, what matters is that we are all just people. We share the same country, the same space and the same school, which is Northern Cape High.”

THE MEC for Education, Mac Jack, had stern words for Northern Cape High School yesterday, warning that “nothing will stop us from fighting racism at this school”.

Jack, who kicked off the start of the 2020 school year by addressing pupils, teachers and parents at Northern Cape High School, questioned whether racism had impacted on the school’s performance in last year’s National Senior Certificate examination results, where the pass rate dropped from 98.2% to 83.4%.

“While 25% of the top 20 matriculants in the Province came from this school, the drop in the matric pass rate is a challenge and I believe that we need to have a look at the underlying factors that caused this,” Jack said, addressing the packed school hall.

He questioned whether racism had impacted on the school’s matric results.

“We fought against racism in the country and defeated it. Nothing is going to stop us from fighting racism at Northern Cape High. Whether it comes from teachers to pupils or pupils to other pupils it is a problem and we will deal with it in the same way.

“This group, as I see you now, is a reflection of a rainbow nation that was put here through blood, sweat and sacrifice. You, as pupils, do not know where we are coming from.”

He called on all pupils to start to see each other as fellow human beings and as brothers. “The differences between you do not matter, what matters is that we are all just people. We share the same country, the same space and the same school, which is Northern Cape High.”

“I am calling on each of you, including the teachers, to divorce yourself from seeing others in terms of race. I am responding to this issue because we had complaints last year. Whether you are on the sports field, in class or even in this assembly, there should not be racism.”

Jack pointed out that at the end of October last year he had met with the school governing body (SGB), school management team (SMT) and disgruntled parents of Northern Cape High School (NCHS) who complained about incidents relating to racism.

“Let me make it clear from the onset, we have no space for racism in our schools between fellow pupils or between teachers and pupils. The department has taken a zero tolerance stance on the matter, and therefore I have assigned a task team to do a full-scale investigation on these incidents.”

He added that the NSC examinations, followed by the December holidays had impacted on the six-week time frame he had set out.

“It is my view, that rushing this complex investigation is not going to do justice to the process, as the outcome can assist the department in addressing similar transformation challenges in other schools in the Province. The investigation is well under way, and we will update the affected parents on the outcome in due course.”

“We cannot allow one bad potato to spoil the entire bag. We will remove that vrot (bad) potato.”

“This can be one of the reasons why the school underperformed last year because we don’t see each other as human beings.”

Jack called on this year’s Grade 12s to achieve a 100% pass rate.

The MEC, together with several top officials from the provincial Department of Education, also visited Greenpoint High School yesterday to congratulate the school on its matric achievement last year, with the pass rate increasing from 45% from 2018 to 81% in 2019.

“This, however, is not enough,” Jack stated. “We want the entire matric class of 86 pupils to pass at the end of this year.”

He urged the pupils to put their “shoulder to the wheel”. “We need to start from today. We cannot wait for Winter or Spring schools. To achieve success, we must make sacrifices. You cannot be in the taverns and then expect to pass.”

Jack, however, had stern words for last year’s Grade 10 class at the school, where the pass rate was only 32%. “This is a problem. I appeal to everyone to ensure that we do everything in our power to make Greenpoint the best school. It cannot always be Girls’ High or Diamantveld. The reason why they are the best is because their pupils respect the teachers.”

He further stated that all schools should be safe. “Pupils assault teachers and teachers assault pupils this is not acceptable.”

Jack also called on teachers to be an example to pupils. “Teachers cannot be skollie-like. They must inculcate hope in pupils so that pupils can look up to them and want to be like them one day.”