Politicians to visit North West school that 'separated' black and white grade R children
The North West education MEC and other politicians will visit a school in the province on Thursday which sparked outrage after allegedly separating grade R learners by race on their first day.
“On behalf of the department, I wish to condemn in its strongest terms any allegation of racism in our schools which contradict the constitution of our country,” North West education and sport development MEC Sello Lehari said.
The mother of a grade R learner from Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in Schweizer-Reneke was fuming after a picture showed her child and three other black children sitting separately from the white children in their class.
The class teacher shared the photo on the school’s WhatsApp group.
The parent said: “This was meant to be an exciting day for me but it’s not.”
The mother, who is not being named to protect the identity of her child, told SowetanLIVE earlier her child’s first day started off smoothly. She and other parents dropped their children off. At 9am, they received an update from the teacher on how their day was going via the WhatsApp group.
The picture showed the 18 white learners in the classroom all occupying a single large desk in the middle of the classroom, while the four black children in the class occupied one desk in a corner at the far end of the classroom.
“All I saw was messages from the white parents saying ‘dankie, dankie’ [‘thank you, thank you’ on the WhatsApp group] but no one was saying anything about the separation of the learners,” the mother said.
She discussed it with another parent outside of the WhatsApp group. The fellow parent then contacted the principal to ask about the seating arrangements.
SowetanLIVE was told that the principal said she unaware of the situation. SowetanLIVE contacted the school. This article will be updated once its response is obtained.
Lehari said department sent officials to investigate the complaint when they heard about it.
DA federal youth leader Luyolo Mphithi condemned the alleged separation.
“It is outrageous that a classroom in 2019 can be racially segregated, which only serves to teach young children from day one to see each other as different and separate. This is unconscionable.”
Mphithi will visit the school on Thursday at 10am to “make a commitment to change outdated attitudes toward integration”.
“No purpose can be served by separating black and white learners, this is a shocking replication of apartheid policies.”