Rustenburg SGB: Allegations against school didn't support a finding of racism

The School Governing Body (SGB) at Rustenburg Girls' Junior School (RGJS) has broken its silence on allegations of racism at the school.

This after former grade five teacher Nozipho Mthembu accused the school of discrimination.

Mthembu was the first-ever black class teacher at the school.

The SGB's head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation sub-committee says the allegations facing RGJS don't support a finding of racism.

Sarah Henshall says the media has deviated from the facts of the story.

According to Henshall, Ms Mthembu herself told the school management she didn't believe RGJS had been racist.

Read: Enough excuses for racism say Parents For Change

Meanwhile, the SGB has rejected calls for it to resign with immediate effect, citing that only 5% of parents at the school wanted to see them go.

Henshall says the school is tackling implicit or unconscious bias through a more diverse interview panel, broader advertising channels for teaching posts and by grooming student teachers enrolled in learnerships at the school.

She adds that focus groups and parent engagement evenings have been held to better understand how pupils can feel "entirely themselves" at school.

Also read: Why SA schools must tackle systemic transformation issues, not the symptoms

At the moment, approximately 64% of the school children are white.

There are 80 black learners in the school this year. Henshall says in 2014, there were only 48.

Henshall maintains that RGJS will continue working on broadening the norms, traditions, symbols and cultural experiences at the school.

This, she says can be done through things such as school signage, extra-mural activities and the admissions policy,

She discussed the challenges facing former model C schools with a legacy of whiteness and apartheid geography.

The bigger question here is transformation... and the numbers are only the beginning of the journey.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

Approximately 5% of parents are calling for us to resign... I don't think that resignation is the answer... People always want a scapegoat.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

Things at Rustenburg are far from perfect, but a lot has happened in the last nine months since we've been on the SGB.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

We understand that institutionally, we need to change.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

For us as the SGB, the reason we didn't come on earlier is because we wanted to take some time and reflect on what had happened.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

The allegations didn't support a finding of racism.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

Ms Mthembu herself says she didn't believe the school had been racist and that she was grateful for the support she has received.

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

If we have to make to make places available for children who live in that area, we are going to end up with more white children. But we are trying very hard to accept children from further away,

Sarah Henshall, head of inclusivity, diversity and transformation subcommittee at RGJS SGB

Listen to the conversation on The John Maytham Show:


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