Racism on the rise in South Africa’s private schools

After twenty-six years of freedom and democracy racism is still happening in country’s private schools. Racism and racial discrimination continue to be felt in our society.

As Grades 7 and 12 learners across the country were returning to school this week, another issue of racism arose at Bishops Diocesan College in the Western Cape. The matric learners at Bishops College held a protest on Friday and drafted a memorandum documenting a list of their demands and experiences of racism and discrimination which they handed over to the school.

Subsequently, pupils from other schools have taken to social media to share their experiences at schools, including Northcliff High School, Pretoria Boys High School, Durban Girls College, the list is endless.

The racism is still taking place in South Africa despite the laws that were put in place since the end of apartheid. The problem of racism in South African schools – is the results of apartheid era. Racial discrimination is a difficult and on-going process.

The wounds of colonialism and apartheid are indeed still visible on the collective face of South African society. Our government confronted racism but didn’t solve problems of economic equality that still challenge black South Africans today.

We remain one of the most unequal countries in the world, a place where the gap between rich and poor is wider. A black person is four times more likely to be unemployed than a white person, and the average income for a white family is six times greater than that of a black family. White people dominate senior management positions at businesses across the country. Poverty levels are highest among black people.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite” Nelson Mandela. Racism is learned and therefore can be unlearned.

Government alone cannot combat the racism between different race groups that persists in many schools but we need to change the way we think about one another and refrain from hating one another because of skin colour.

Recent racial incidents at schools have again prompted some to ask why race is still an issue in South Africa. I believe our problem is that we do not talk about it enough. Teachers can create learning opportunities that acknowledge race and ethnicity. Schools need to prioritise preventing racism by providing all students with learning opportunities, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity and treat all learners equally. To prevent racism educators must talk to students explicitly about racism.

Photo: Supplied

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