Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is visiting Pretoria Girls’ High School today following allegations of racism and intimidation against black schoolgirls.
Pupils have voiced their discontent over what they perceive to be systematic racism at the school. This came to a head when girls took to the streets to protest rules forcing them to straighten their hair using hair relaxers.
The revolt has spread to social media and society at large as calls ring load for Lesufi to take action against the school.
One of the first places racism has to removed is in schools. Children shouldn’t have to be fighting this. #stopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Khaya Dlanga (@khayadlanga) August 28, 2016
Until we get rid of racism, sexism and discrimination in education institutions our society won’t be free! #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Ulrich J van Vuuren (@UlrichJvV) August 29, 2016
Another allegation against the school is that black children are discouraged from standing in groups and speaking in a language other than English or Afrikaans for fear that they might be conspiring.
Following the protest, a petition, in solidarity with the pupils, emerged online calling on Lesufi and school staff to take action. The demands were:
- The school’s code of conduct does not discriminate against Black and Muslim girls;
- Disciplinary action against teachers and other staff members implementing any racist policy and/or racist actions
- Protection for the learners who protested to ensure they will not be victimised.
Reinforcing the demands of the protesting pupils, the petition laments that “Girls attending the school have been forced to straighten their hair; are accused of conspiring when standing in groups and face other intolerable comments and actions.”
— Zikhona Tshona (@ZikhonaTshona) August 29, 2016
As of this morning, the petition has almost 10 000 signatures.
Lesufi says he will engage all parties and hear both sides of the story before committing to take any for of action.
4 meetings Lesufi will have today:
1. The students
2. School management
4. Governing body#StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Mail & Guardian (@MG_Reporter) August 29, 2016