SANCO Urges Wagpos to treat students equally

SANCO proclaims that Wagpos High School could allegedly be racial against black students.  It is further alleged that the expression raised by SANCO members and some of the parents came after few complaint were made regarding the behaviour rendered by the school management.

Parents allegedly expressed that Wagpos High School in Brits is promoting racism against students.  Apparently, the school is allegedly accused of refusing to admit black students who are coming from black community schools. It is alleged that the whole incident happened when new admissions was supposed to be made for the coming year.  Eyewitnesses revealed that parents had expressed their frustrations after visiting the school to register their children.  The same incident happened last year, students were turned away because of the language policy.   Wagpos High School did comment on the accusations on the 18th of March 2016 when SANCO first went to them about the matter.  They said the accusations are incorrect and that they give all learners a fare chance, regardless of race and language.

The management emphasised that Wagpos is an Afrikaans speaking school and that classes are not held in English, except the English second additional language class. According to the report given by the school management, racism is not tolerated at Wagpos and it is a big offence when someone gets caught making any racial comments.  The school hosts a Autumn school each year during the holidays that benefits 1500 learners from outside, all of them are English speaking students.

The South African Civil Organisation (SANCO) once again intervened in the matter and requested to have a meeting with the school to find out why the school is not treating students equally. SANCO, urged that the school should change their system and policies simply because they are literally benefitting from the government.  “Every year, the school is hosting a matric farewell and receives money from the government.  They are doing business with the government but fail to accommodate black students because of their language policy,” he said. “As SANCO we will engage with the department of education at a later stage to find out what could be the problem with regards to the language policy in the school,” he said. According to the information given, the schools teaching medium and first language is Afrikaans and is designed for students with those particular needs. This first language syllabus develops learners’ ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively they have expressed. They learn how to employ a wide-ranging vocabulary, use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and develop a personal style and an awareness of the audience being addressed.

It is alleged that the school’s focus is agriculture through farming and basically that is the most valuable ‘culture’ of white people and that is why black students are segregated from the school.  The school split and refused pupils because white parents threatened to remove their children.  According to one parent, it is alleged this could be very much expected from the white Brits community known for holding deep racist prejudices. The majority of parents are predominantly white and allegedly wanted to remove their children from the school. The institution gave in to the pressure by the racist parents and therefore this is considered as being racist.  The school denied the accusations and argued that it accommodates pupils based on culture but has since apologised for the remarks. If they were not racist or wrong to begin with, there would be no need for an apology – or has all logic lost its predominance.

The government needs to convene a summit where a transformation charter should be presented to principals and school governing bodies (SGB). The report further says black and white students attend the same classes, not the whites only Afrikaans classes and the black students only in English classes.  Wagpos is an Afrikaans medium school. That simply means what counts for the one counts for the other.  Mathematically, it could be impossible for the school to be a double medium school for the school is already full and the  infrastructure does not allow it.

To clarify the statement, Wagpos is not a racism school according to the management and does not deny English students to be part of the school.  Researchers indicates that Afrikaans is the second biggest language in South Africa and 13.5% of our nation speaks Afrikaans. English is lower than Afrikaans and only 9.6% of our nation speak the language.  The following is what Wagpos had to say about all the allegations;

1. Is the school, the First Language Afrikaans school designed for students whose first language is Afrikaans?  Afrikaans is the (LOLT) language of teaching and learning.  Any learner who wants to receive teaching in this language can enroll at Wagpos.

2. It came into our attention that the school refuses to register black students who are from the black community schools, is it true?  This is definitely not the truth.  No learner has ever been refused to enroll on the grounds of race.  We recently enrolled English speaking black learners.  It was communicated to them that Afrikaans is the language of teaching.  They left the school after halve a week.

3. Some of the parents feel that the school is practicing racism – Is the school practicing racism?  Not at all.  Wagpos endorses the constitution, as well as the School’s Act and in line with it.  Racism is not tolerated.  The school hosts an Autumn school during the holidays which benefits 1500 learners from the outside, al English speaking.

4. It is alleged that the Afrikaans classes are predominately made up of white pupils, while black children are in the English classes.  Is the above mentioned statement correct?  Not true.  The school does not differentiate between learners on the grounds of race.  The school does not have English classes, it is a Afrikaans medium school.

5. How many registered black students and white students are in the school?  Not of any importance.  There are 884 Afrikaans speaking children in the school.

6. SANCO believes that by hosting matric students every year, the school benefits financially from the government and therefore it is against the law that the school refuses to register black students because of the language policy.   If so, is the school intending to change the school policy to accommodate every citizen in this community?

The school is already full.  Infrastructure does not allow the consideration of dual medium.  The school and department communicated at the end of 2015 to address the needs of the English community and an agreement was reached that a task team will be established. The task team put a report together and is in communication with the department regarding the outcome of the report.  Two decades after the end of constitutionalised racism, one of the greatest challenges facing us is to continue fighting for the world as it should be, fighting a new form of racism, which is far different from the racism that reached a climax through the Struggle, but far more difficult to fight and overcome. There is also the issue of ‘chequebook apartheid.’ This divides people according to their annual income – being the have and have nots – an economic freedom fight thus ensues.

We’re not talking about the obvious racists. We are talking about a silent epidemic of hidden agendas of covert racism. The type of racism that declares segregation to be a thing of the past.  Parents expressing their dissatisfaction that their children were refused by the school authorities to register due to the language policy. As a nation, have we made gains in fighting racism? How sad it was to discover a dire truth: racism is alive and well even in school halls and playgrounds. It is racism that excludes and oppresses instead of creating cohesion and inclusion. It is racism that is gentle on the surface, but unrelenting and horribly damaging at its core.

It is racism disguised as cultural differences. White pupils, particularly Afrikaans pupils, are culturally different from black pupils. But Zulu, or Ndebele, let alone Sotho pupils, are not culturally different from Venda, Tsonga or Xhosa pupils. So, where do we draw the line. According to academics, philosophers and psychologists racism includes but is not limited to feelings of hatred or dislike for individuals because of their race, ethnicity or even nationality. More broadly, racism includes support for and or cooperation with laws, policies, and practices that put groups at a disadvantage because of their race or ethnicity and because of their culture.

Essentially then, racism has much more to do with the power and position of an individual’s group in society than with just attitudes toward an individual who happens to be of a certain race or ethnicity.  With that in mind, researchers say it should be easier to see how certain groups can get away with things for which members of another group would be severely punished.  It becomes easier to see how people of certain groups can secure and retain wealth more readily than those of another group. It becomes easier to see how groups with the power use the education system to build up or tear down groups based upon race and ethnicity. Pedagogic or rather educational apartheid is also a reality. This has to do with the know nots and the know hows.

Unfortunately, this quiet, hidden and overt racism continues today because we are not forced to confront these uncomfortable truths. Too many of us have chosen by default to ignore them. Why? Because too many good-minded South Africans are too busy with their lives and their careers to notice it, let alone do anything about it. The point is that, as parents, we should ask ourselves whether our children are learning racism at school.   Are they learning self-hatred or learning how to hate each other? Are they learning it from their teachers or their parents at home? These are the kind of questions we are faced with. We know that children are born without hatred, accepting and loving one another, racism is learnt and taught over the years of adolescence and especially in the teenage years. This is done by stereotyping and seeing bad experiences like crime or bullying as one with a particular culture or race.

They are unaware of the racism that exists in the world when children come into being, but they begin to feel it when teachers, pupils and other adults make these ‘differences’ obvious.  Schools, from the teachers to pupils, must be a representation of our society, an example of our rainbow nation.

Parents unfortunately cannot monitor every moment of their children’s school day. It is imperative to prepare your children for the inevitability of racism. As parents, you should never forget that you are the first teachers your children will ever come to know. You need to prepare your children for the world they will inhabit as adults. Everyone has an interesting heritage or an interesting mix of heritages. Take pride in each one, but not the kind of pride that looks down on others  A true respect for other cultures and races has to start with respect for where we came from ourselves.

Blacks and whites need to continue talking, let us even bring our coloured, Indian and Asian friends into the mix.  Everyone has the burden of winning every racist over, and every racist has the burden of dismembering racism within themselves. The end of racism starts with each of us within ourselves.