'Elite schools in SA are still reproducing bullying and whiteness'

Elite, model C and private schools are known to provide the best education in the country.

With the public system crumbling, parents turn these schools to educate their children.

For some time now these schools seem to be having difficulty in dealing with social challenges.

In August 2016, black learners at Pretoria High School for Girls organised a protest against school authorities preventing them from wearing their hair in afros.

Recently Jeppe Girls School punished students because the students had failed to 'formally ask permission' to wear their hijabs in school.

Policies that have been put in place seem to have been created to benefit certain people but alienates those that it wasn’t designed for.

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh standing in for Eusebius McKaiser discussed the issue with urban education policy, social enterprise and program evaluation professional Dr Warren Chalken, a former head boy of St John's college and digital marketer Nhlanhla Makenna.

These elite schools offer the premium in terms of education. You get there to this fanfare but you very quickly realise there is a price you have to pay for this.

Nhlanhla Makenna, Digital Markerter

Ten years later, going back to the schools and speaking to students, you realise the struggle have not changed. You are taken from wherever you come from and you absolutely assimilate your blackness, religion and all those things have to take the second level. You are a 'whatever' boy or girl first and foremost.

Nhlanhla Makenna, Digital Markerter

Because you have been conditioned to believe that this opportunity is the only way, it's the best way. The conflict comes from a sense of gratitude that you feel you have to have. And that gratitude comes with a sense of not being able to honestly criticise an institution and look at things that are happening and be able to say hang on, how are we in the top school in Africa and my name still can't be pronounced the right way at an assembly.

Nhlanhla Makenna, Digital Markerter

Who controls the gun controls the land, who controls the land, controls the economy, who controls the economy controls the government, who controls the government controls the schools and who controls the schools reproduces society.

Dr. Warren Chalken, Urban education policy, social enterprise and program evaluation professional

If you think of elite South African schools they were built for a purpose. They were built to dispossess black people of their land with the sole purpose of exploiting them.

Dr. Warren Chalken, Urban education policy, social enterprise and program evaluation professional

When we look at elite schools, we have to look at how they produce and reproduce power in our society.

Dr. Warren Chalken, Urban education policy, social enterprise and program evaluation professional

We would have western food as a norm and African food as a treat. When we really look at the traditions and the legacy of these schools, we actually see that they are reproducing bullying, whiteness and they are not really transformed.

Dr. Warren Chalken, Urban education policy, social enterprise and program evaluation professional

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This article first appeared on 702 : 'Elite schools in SA are still reproducing bullying and whiteness'


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