Teachers face the cane
TEACHERS at a Cape Town girls’ school are facing disciplinary action after a row about African hairstyles exploded into an uprising.
But punitive measures are not expected to be taken after an investigation by the Western Cape education department into Sans Souci High School in Claremont, department head Brian Schreuder said yesterday.
“The investigation found that a number of discriminating practices gave rise to understandable unhappiness among learners and steps have already been taken to remedy these practices,” Schreuder said.
“I have taken legal advice on the matter, and the conclusion is that while a number of unacceptable practices were identified which require revision and correction, the evidence is unlikely to lead to dismissal[s].”
However, there would be “disciplinary engagements with individuals, where applicable”.
Schreuder said Charmaine Murray retired at the end of last month after 36 years of “distinguished and loyal service”, the last 17 as principal of Sans Souci.
He said: “She indicated that her decision, while of retirement age, is as a consequence of the trauma of the unfolding events and believes this to be in her and the school’s best interest.”
In September, Sans Souci pupils called for Murray’s suspension and disciplinary action to be taken against seven teachers — including the “head of hair” — for “institutional racism”.
They said the teachers had referred to black pupils as “baboons and hyenas”. They also demanded the abolition of the “dompas” — a book recording transgressions such as speaking isiXhosa at school.
These allegations were contained in a scathing 13page memorandum drawn up by pupils, parents and the alumni, which was presented to the provincial education officials.
Schreuder said: “Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape education minister, asked the department to conduct the investigation into aspects of [the] memorandum.”
The investigation was led by the chief director, Clifton Frolick, and Schreuder said that as a result:
The school’s code of conduct would be reviewed;
The hair policy had been changed;
Decisions about inclusivity of all cultures and faiths would be reviewed; and
The governing body would be offered training and support.
“The climate and culture of the school, governed by the governing body and managed by the staff, need to reflect a South African school culture that is inclusive, orderly and disciplined,” said Schreuder.
“The [department] will work with the school to continue the revisions already started.”