Teach­ers face the cane

The Times (South Africa) - - NEWS - DAVE CHAM­BERS

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.”

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