Demonstrations outside South African school accused of separating black and white pupils

Teacher suspended after picture sparks outrage

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 10 January 2019 15:42 GMT
Spokesman says pupils at South African school were not 'separated based on race' in classroom

A school in South Africa accused of alleged racial segregation is being investigated after a photo emerged showing black students sitting on a separate table from their white classmates.

A teacher from Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the North West region has been suspended after the image sparked outrage and prompted demonstrations outside the school, Times Live reports.

Education officials launched an investigation after the photo, which shows a large group of white pupils at a long table and four black students at a different table at the back of the room, went viral.

The image of the children, aged between four and five, was shared on the school’s WhatsApp group by the class teacher to let parents know how their first day was going.

Critics said the image was reminiscent of the racial segregation seen under apartheid.

A mother of one of the black pupils has insisted they were told where to sit in the classroom.

She told Times Live: “When I got to the class before school in the morning, all the children's names were already written on the desks they were supposed to sit at.

“The labels had been put on their tables and their aprons.”

Activist and ANC campaigner Mcebo Dlamini wrote on Facebook: “What is most provoking about this image is not that black kids are ostracised from white kids, that is common in our supposedly post apartheid Africa.

“Rather what becomes painful is that there are black people who still insist that racism has ended and who think that blacks and white can have peaceful relations that do not have undertones of racism.

“This is impossible so long as white people have power, what therefore is needed is to change the existing power dynamics such that black people can have dignity.

“You can take your kids to the whitest schools in the country but so long as the black majority is poor, your kids will always be reminded that they are black and therefore inferior.”

Later, another photo emerged showing white and black children sitting together in the classroom.

However, the school’s governing body has said the photo was only a reflection of a “single moment”.

Freddy Sepeng, spokesperson for the local education department, told Times Live: "We have seen the picture and we are investigating the allegations.”

In a statement to the media, Jozeph du Plessis, chairperson of the governing body, said: “The governing body does not condone any distinction based on race.

"Learners from different backgrounds, including race, religion and language, are not merely accommodated but are fully integrated in all aspects of the school environment.”

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