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Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 21:57:23 -0600 (CST)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: EDUCATION: Shocking Report On Racism In South African Schools
Article: 57049
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.24541.19990309181719@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 545.0 **/
** Topic: EDUCATION: Shocking Report On Racism In South African Schools **
** Written 3:08 PM Mar 7, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1999 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

Shocking Report On Racism In South African Schools

By Gumisai Mutume, IPS
4 March 1999

JOHANNESBURG, Mar 4 (IPS) - White supremacist belief systems still continue to affect inter-racial schooling in South Africa five years after a new government came to power.

Findings of a report released Thursday by South Africa's Human Rights Commission (HRC) on racial integration in public schools are shocking.

Racism is blistering in South African schools largely influenced by stereotypes that believe Black people are naturally and scientifically inferior to Whites.

"As such, mixing is not really an aspiration of White learners because Blacks have nothing of importance or relevance to offer them," notes the Study on Racial Integration in Public Schools, the first comprehensive national study on racism in schools.

"The ways in which racism is regarded as part of one's everyday experience is nothing short of frightening. The scope is very broad from fights, name-calling, physical abuse like bottle or stone-throwing, to the mention of death and murder," it says.

There has been tremendous pressure on schools to admit children from former Black townships.

While schools have been co-operative in admitting pupils from previously disadvantaged communities, there has been use of selective admission criteria by some schools such as entrance tests, language proficiency tests and proof of residence to keep Blacks out.

However, the South African Schools Act of 1996 states that the governing body of a public school may not administer any test related to the admission of a learner to a school.

Under South Africa's new constitution, no learner may be denied admission to a school on the grounds of race, gender, origin, faith, colour, inability to pay school fees, language or age.

There is mention, in the study, that some principals are racist. Several Black learners state that when they report racist incidents, principals do not do anything and just tell them to love or forgive the person.

Other students, although few, often feel powerless to confront racism because they fear teacher responses or being ostracised by their peers.

"There have been sporadic incidents of racial conflict which the department has been able to contain and manage," notes Gauteng province education minister, Mary Metcalfe, in a contribution to the study.

"Elandspoort High where there was a major incident last year is receiving ongoing support from the District Office after initial intervention by officials who are trained in dealing with racial conflict," the report says.

"The key problem however, is that many teachers and school managers do not have the necessary skills to manage situations of racial conflict," it adds.

Some White students, on the other hand, feel Blacks bring racism upon themselves. "Blacks are stereotypically loud and uncultured or they simply just are not good enough," the report says.

Other Whites feel unjustly blamed of racism because of apartheid. "There is no integration because a zebra and a lion have different hobbies," says one pupil questioned in the study.

Another student, a Black, says she has suffered in the hand of a White colleague during a photo taking session. "Accidentally my arm brushed against a White girl's jersey. She looked devastated and angry. Then she walked away talking about 'the kaffir' touching her," the student recalls.

Kaffir, a derogatory term, mean 'Nigger' in Afrikaner.

The study also found that while sport is often viewed as a tool for integration, it is also often used as a tool for separation. Blacks are often blocked by stereotypes such as "Blacks can't swim".

The study is one of a few the HRC is carrying out on one of South Africa's most volatile issues, race. The HRC is currently also probing racism in the South African media.

When the National Party came to power in 1948 they institutionalised racism in South Africa passing among others the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, The Immorality Act (barring sex between people of different races) and the Bantu Education Act which created a new syllabus for black scholars that restricted the subjects taught.

A new government in 1994 and a new constitution have been battling to equalise relationships between the two groups but the report notes that the situation is "not yet simunye", meaning the nation is not yet united.

"A black person is always a Black person, treated like a slave and Whites are always the boss. That is how it is in the school," says another student in the report.(END/IPS/gm/mn/98)

Origin: Harare/EDUCATION/

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