Equal Education calls for an end to institutional racism in Western Cape schools

Equal Education calls for an end to institutional racism in Western Cape schools

Public backlash over the Brackenfell High School Whites-only matric celebration continues. Equal Education says the incident is one manifestation of the racism found in schools across the Western Cape.

“The fact that the white kids didn’t see anything wrong with a “whites only” party at the school says a lot about the kind of future Brackenfell students should look forward to. The whole scandal is racially motivated in a way that it makes POC (people of colour) look and feel less of humans, which is completely wrong. POC were protesting against racism outside of Brackenfell High and were still attacked which is very disturbing. It is a shame that in our democratic dispensation, you still get such racially motivated acts. Personally, the principal should be held accountable, as he is the leader and is the one to promote a non-racial environment,” says Equal Education learner member (Equaliser) Mihlali Mateta.

The rights organisation says the fight for equal and quality education requires the dismantling of institutional racism (racist policies and practices) being experienced by Black learners (learners of colour) at formerly white public and private schools.

It is describing Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s response to the incident as “tone deaf, disturbing and shows deliberate ignorance of what racism and discrimination is and how it plays out in schools.”

 In her official statement, Schäfer dismissed the discrimination as a private event. She said the teachers who attended the celebration would not be disciplined as they were at the event in their private capacity.

“This results in schools like Brackenfell High School continuing to be non-inclusive spaces, hostile at times to Black people.When the Western Cape MEC of Education lacks the political will to see basic racial discrimination, how will the department which she oversees be able to properly address long-standing problematic policies, practices and cultures in schools, and what hope do Black learners in the Western Cape have of attending schools that are safe and integrated?,” asks Equal Education.

The organisation is calling on the school community of Brackenfell High, the Western Cape Education Department and the Commissioner for Children in the Western Cape to play a more proactive role in investigating and addressing all complaints of racism at the school and uprooting institutional racism in schools in the Western Cape.

Meanwhile, Sibongile Nkasayi, who was caught on camera being beaten by an unidentified man, has opened a case of assault against her assailant.

No arrest has yet been made.

And the man arrested for discharging a firearm during the Economic Freedom Fighters’ protest at the school on Monday appeared in court on Wednesday.

Jaco Pretorious’ case was postponed for further investigations and he will return to the Kuils River Magistrates Court 25 January 2021.

The EFF has promised to return to the school to “teach racists” a lesson.

The school tried to interdict them but failed.

‘Western Cape school gender identity guidelines have dangerous flaws’

‘Western Cape school gender identity guidelines have dangerous flaws’

Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) are concerned over the Western Cape Department of Education’s (WCED) Draft Guidelines on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Public Schools.

The civil rights organisations believe the guidelines, in their current form, will not properly protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ learners. 

“We want to emphasise the importance of a document that can provide schools with direction on being inclusive, but are very worried that, despite the previous detailed feedback that we submitted to the WCED, various drafts of these Guidelines have not fixed the critical flaws,” say the organisations.

Equal Education and the Equal Education Law Centre say earlier versions of the department’s draft guidelines were full of highly problematic language.

“The latest version of the draft Guidelines, shared last week with a small number of academics and organisations who previously submitted comments, have addressed some of the problems, but EE and the EELC’s bigger concerns have remained unchanged,” they say.

Problem areas identified are the documents’ failure to recognise and protect learners’ Constitutional rights; failure to put strong obligations on schools and create processes that protect learners; failure to encourage schools to take proactive steps towards being inclusive and failure to centre learners and use affirming language.

The Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre submitted a third round of feedback to the WCED on Wednesday, which the organisations say, points out the problems and how the guidelines can be improved.