Pupils at Sans Souci Girls’ High claim some teachers are giving black pupils English names instead of using their isiXhosa names.A group of pupils protested against “institutional racism” at the Newlands school on Thursday, saying their grievances included not being allowed to speak isiXhosa on the school premises.
“I am not called by the name my mother gave me here. They refuse to call me by my name,” a Grade 8 pupil said.She revealed a yellow notebook of demerits she had received, including three hours’ detention “for speaking isiXhosa”.
The Western Cape Education Department has sent officials to the school and has launched an investigation.Pupils will be interviewed as part of the probe.
The pupils were later joined by parents and pupils from neighbouring schools who came to show their support.The pupils reported the case to the police stating that their rights were being infringed.
A Grade 9 pupil said “at this school you are made to feel bad because you are black.”
Schäfer said two main areas of concern have to be dealt with. The first was that pupils have alleged the school’s code of conduct was discriminatory and the second involved serious allegations about the actions of some individual teachers.
“I have discussed the matter with the chair of the governing body. He advised me none of these issues have been raised by the learner representatives on the governing body at any stage, and there is an open door policy where any matter of concern can be discussed.”
She said codes of conduct had to reflect the values of the constitution.
“The current national debate is a good opportunity for school communities to reflect on this issue. I am therefore calling on all schools in the Western Cape to review their codes of conduct to ensure that they are in line with the values of the constitution, and representative of the school community. I will be asking my department to formally issue a circular to this effect.”
She said if it was true pupils were discouraged from speaking any language other than English while in uniform “to make other people feel included”, then this was unacceptable.
“It is the right of individuals to speak in their language of choice. Obviously for school lessons this is not possible, but in any other respect there is no reason to justify this practice. It would be a golden opportunity for English speakers to learn other languages.”
The department said the school was rewriting its code of conduct.