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High School Learners Claim Teachers Subject Them To Unwelcome Gestures And Racial Slurs

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A Joburg school has been caught in a racial storm following complaints of discrimination by learners.

Brackendowns High School learners say they fear attending school owing to teachers who are allegedly racist and sexist.

A number of learners at the Alberton school allege they have been subjected to unwelcome gestures, unwanted remarks and racial slurs from teachers, who have made their lives at the school a living hell.

On Wednesday, parents and learners embarked on a protest inside the school’s premises.

A learner who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity said their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

“On September 4 I walked inside the school premises and as per Covid-19 restrictions I was required to go through a screening process that was initiated by a female teacher.

“I was wearing a dress which went beyond my knees and tights underneath, it was casual clothing day, the teacher told me to stand aside and call my parents since I won’t be allowed in class.”

She said the teacher told her that she was inviting stares from boys.

“She told me that I can’t blame them (boys) when they start giving me unwanted attention,” she said.

Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said: “The implicated educator was precautionarily removed from the school and will with immediate effect report to the district office.”

Mabona also expressed concern with the teacher’s remarks.

“We are very disappointed that such disturbing utterances could be attributed to a female educator. A school environment should be conducive to teach learners more so to uphold values.

“We know what gender-based violence has done and continues to do to our women and children. Hence it is unfortunate that such an incident allegedly occurred in our space.”

Another learner said that a male teacher made her feel unwelcome in class.

“I was speaking in vernacular with another student and the teacher patted me on the shoulder uncomfortably and it kept on happening, I didn’t know what to do, I was shocked. I have since changed the subject because of that particular teacher.”

The learner added the incident had been reported, but no action was taken against the teacher.

A parent who was also part of the protest claimed learners have also been subjected to racism.

“The school has white teachers, which is not a problem. But we have this Indian teacher who labels our kids as blacks and whores, which is unacceptable, but the school has somehow tolerated all that,” the parent said.

Mabona has assured concerned parents that action will be taken.

“We can confirm that an investigation has been launched and a preliminary report will be shared with parents on Friday (September 11), and it is anticipated that the matter will be finalised before the end of September.”

Mabona said learners would continue attending classes while a psychologist will be conducting necessary counselling to all affected.

DA education spokesperson Khume Ramulifho condemned racism at schools and called for investigations against those implicated.

“Schools are places where learners need to be taught how to live together and ensure that we embrace our diversity, and that has to be reflected through everyone at the school starting from teachers to learners,” Ramulifho said.

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