Girls’ school gets into HRC’s bad books

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

THE HU­MAN Rights Com­mis­sion (HRC) has or­dered a pri­vate school in Sand­ton to stop dis­crim­i­nat­ing against girls by not giv­ing them the same hon­ours to put on their blaz­ers as boys.

This comes af­ter the fa­ther of a for­mer pupil at St Stithi­ans Girls’ Col­lege ar­gued that the school de­nied her the op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive out­ward recog­ni­tion for her ac­com­plish­ments.

The fa­ther, who does not want to be named, said St Stithi­ans Boys’ Col­lege pupils are awarded braids, badges and colours or hon­ours blaz­ers while St Stithi­ans Girls’ Col­lege only re­ceive “a hand­shake in as­sem­blies and prize-giv­ing evenings where they are awarded cer­tifi­cates”. This amounts to gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion, he said. He said that his daugh­ter, who was now study­ing ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence at uni­ver­sity, at­tained 10 As in ma­tric last year, and was the school’s best over­all achiever, but “the op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive out­ward recog­ni­tion for her achieve­ments was with­held from her”.

The HRC has given the school three months to re­vise its pol­icy on the prac­tice of award­ing dif­fer­ent forms of out­ward recog­ni­tion for achieve­ment to boys from that of girls.

But school spokes­woman Me­gan van der Poll said the school would ap­peal.

“The cur­rent po­si­tion is that we’re ap­peal­ing the find­ing and the mat­ter is sub ju­dice.”

St Stithi­ans ar­gues that when its Girls’ Col­lege opened in the 1990s, it had a man­date to es­tab­lish a school based on the most “cur­rent trends and re­search on best prac­tice for girls”.

“The Boys’ Col­lege was al­ready well es­tab­lished and had 55 years of tra­di­tion of con­ven­tional recog­ni­tion: braids, badges, colours and hon­ours blaz­ers.” Al­though both schools share the same cam­pus, church val­ues and fa­cil­i­ties, the Girls’ Col­lege didn’t have to be a “car­bon copy” of the Boys’ Col­lege, but had to do things dif­fer­ently, it stated.

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