Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 21:57:23 -0600 (CST)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: EDUCATION: Shocking Report On Racism In South African Schools
/** 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
"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,"
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
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
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
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
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)
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