MEC Panyaza Lesufi nipping incidents of racism at schools in the bud

Gauteng MEC For Education Panyaza Lesufi talks to Bongani Bingwa about incidents of alleged racism at schools in the province.

At Klipspruit Secondary School it has been reported that pupils were locked out of the school on Monday because angry parents rejected the appointment of a black school principal. The community allegedly arguing that it is a coloured area and there is not enough coloured representation.

Then at Windsor House Academy in Kempton Park allegations were made that a group of black girls was expelled on Monday over their hairstyles.

MEC Lesufi visited the schools on Tuesday.

It is unfortunate, the Klipspruit one because the school governing body said they want that interview candidate and recommended to the department.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

Lesufi says following the SGB recommendation, the department simply did the verification and ensured the candidate was capable.

Upon appointment of the recommended candidate, the SGB came back to say they really feel a coloured person needs to be appointed. They had the opportunity to do so, they had the chance to do so, but unfortunately, they didn't.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

He says they have arranged to meet with the SGB tomorrow at 5 pm to receive an explanation, at 6 pm they will meet with community members involved and then at 7 pm they will meet with the parents of the learners at the school and find a way to solve the problem.

I will wait until then to understand why they are challenging their own decision.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

Would he reconsider the original appointment based on these grievances, asks Bongani?

I am reluctant to take that route. It will set the wrong precedent...I really believe in non-racialism, I believe in competency and I believe in somebody who has the capacity to deliver the goods.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

But he says he will listen to the community and decide on the best way forward.

With regards to Windsor Acadamy, Lesufi says he is deeply disappointed.

It pains me to get young girls crying that they have been discriminated against based on the colour of our skin...young girls that need to concentrate on their studies...and preliminary exams... they are told that their hairstyle is not appropriate.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

He says he convened an urgent meeting with the complainants, and another meeting with school management.

We've agreed this practice is completely unacceptable, it must be withdrawn immediately and learners must be allowed to go back to class, and the school must reformulate the school policy...so as to accommodate everyone.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

To quote the principal, they were expelled because their hair looked like they were on school holidays rather than on school premises.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

He says he had hoped private schools would have followed the directive after last year's Pretoria Girls High incident. But Windsor House is a private school and seems not to have done so.

He intends to monitor the private schools in this regard.

Human rights are human rights and they are not negotiable.

Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng Education MEC

He says overall the issues around hair have improved a great deal since the 2016 incident and says in the public education system things are on course.

Lesufi believes that there is a better understanding and commitment to non-racialism and non-sexism in the education environment.

Racism and sexism must not be allowed to exist, he says and needs to be nipped in the bud.

Listen to Panyaza Lesufi below:

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