Mail & Guardian

Ivy League schools fail black

Two mothers say their choice schools encourage pupils to embrace their indivualit­y and culture

- Bongekile Macupe

Wealthy young black parents are veering off of the beaten track to private and former model C schools when they choose a path for their children. It’s a move to affirm their African identity.

The impeccable track record of these marque schools, such as the consistent 100% matric pass rate, is no longer enough for some parents.

Two mothers in the process of enrolling their children for their first year of school are not even considerin­g the traditiona­l private schools for their children. Having been educated at what are regarded as South Africa’s Ivy League schools themselves and agreeing that it was a good education, they insist they can do better for their children.

Their lack of interest in these schools has been further exacerbate­d by recent incidents of racial discrimina­tion at some of these schools.

At St John’s College in Johannesbu­rg a teacher was found guilty of racism. In the same week, black girls with braids at Windsor House Academy in Kempton Park were told that their hair was “unruly”. This followed a similar incident at Pretoria Girls High School where black pupils were told to straighten their hair.

Nandi Dlephu (34), whose son will start grade one next year, says: “Growing up, me and my siblings had our share of racial nonsense that we had to deal with in school. Even the hair drama is not a new drama. I remember being in school, having dreadlocks, and this was in the late 1990s, and it being a problem with my headmaster then. My mother took a stand that: ‘Nandi is not cutting her hair. It is Afrocentri­c. There is nothing in the guidelines of the school that says these kids cannot be proud of who they are.’ I remember the rest of the kids in the school cut their dreadlocks and I was the only kid left with dreadlocks and these are the type of nonsenses that I just don’t want my black child to go through.”

Vuyiswa Muthshekwa­ne (31) started her schooling career in one of the top private schools in Cape Town in 1992 and she says she remembers a time where she felt like the “other”.

“Subtle things like all your teachers are white but all the cleaners are black, as you grow up and start to form your own perception, your self-esteem … I believe that those things have a huge impact. I never wanted for him to experience that,” says Muthshekwa­ne.

Her son is also starting school next year.

These mothers are attracted to schools that offer a “revolution­ary” curriculum, a space where their children will not be taught to conform, but rather learn to be individual­s and encouraged to embrace being African.

In her teens, Muthshekwa­ne, moved to Dakar in Senegal. She credits the years in West Africa, where she attended schools with people from different nationalit­ies, for no longer feeling like the “other”, “because everyone was ‘other’ ”.

It brought her closer to people from other African countries and taught her to appreciate

 ??  ?? Acceptance: Nandi Dlephu went to a private school and got a good education, but she wants more than this for her son. Photo: Oupa Nkosi
Acceptance: Nandi Dlephu went to a private school and got a good education, but she wants more than this for her son. Photo: Oupa Nkosi

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