Black girls in tears at Pre­to­ria school hair protest

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

PRE­TO­RIA — Tears flowed as black Pre­to­ria High School for Girls pupils yes­ter­day told of al­leged racism and abuse suf­fered at the hands of white teach­ers.

“I have a nat­u­ral afro, but a teacher told me I need to comb my hair be­cause it looks like a birds nest,” one girl told Gauteng ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi, who vis­ited the school yes­ter­day morn­ing.

At the cen­tre of the protests is the sec­tion of the school’s code of con­duct re­lat­ing to hair­styles, which black girls claim dis­crim­i­nates against them.

The girl told Le­sufi she was given a brush and told to neaten her hair. She was told to look at her­self in a mir­ror.

More than five girls ex­pressed their dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the treat­ment re­ceived over their hair.

An­other pupil told Le­sufi she was told not to use her mother tongue with her friends.

“Teach­ers find it dis­turb­ing when you speak to your friend in ver­nac­u­lar. They say stop mak­ing funny noises or you will have to sit in my of­fice,” she said.

The pupil said the same teacher had a dis­cus­sion in class. Girls were asked to dis­cuss what came to mind when speak­ing about black­ness.

“Coin­ci­den­tally, only white learn­ers were par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­ver­sa­tion. She said things like, when you think of the word black, you as­so­ciate it with evil, dark, and bad things,” she said.

Some of the pupils broke down as they ad­dressed Le­sufi. The MEC and his of­fi­cials gasped and shook their heads when they heard from the girls. A par­ent who was present cried.

“I’m truly sorry and I can as­sure you that it ends here. You have my sup­port and I will pro­tect you. Your pain will never again con­tinue for as long as I’m still the MEC in this province,” Le­sufi said.

“It ends here. If there is some­one who needs to pack their bags and leave this school, then they will,” he said.

The school has not yet com­mented. — Sapa

Jean Ping

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