South Africa, Cape Town – Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s latest statement on the issue of racism at Brackenfell High School has been met with disappointment by those who demonstrated for diversity.
Following footage of the event on social media, past pupils spoke up publicly about their experiences of marginalisation at the school, while the EFF and PAC demonstrated at the premises.
This is an application by the School Governing Body to interdict the EFF from protesting at the school was on Monday postponed in the Western Cape High Court to December 22.
Schäfer said in a statement on Monday that invitations were circulated to all matric classes, and there are no grounds to take action against teachers who attended the event.
“Four teachers were invited in their personal capacities, as they had close personal links to the organising parent.
The school was aware that the event was happening, but the school and organisers regarded it as a private event. It was thus not necessary to seek the approval of the principal or the SGB. Supervision at the event was strictly maintained by parents only,” Schäfer said.
EFF provincial spokesperson Wandile Kasibe said they wanted to study the full report for particulars before they would make any further decisions.
He said they maintained that black pupils and pupils of colour were left to feel excluded from the event.
“The MEC has attacked the EFF from the beginning without even understanding what the issues are. The point and fact are that pupils were excluded.
“We still have people coming out and talking about their experiences at the school. The MEC is making excuses,” Wandile said.
A former pupil, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said he was disappointed in Schäfer’s response and that he was of the view that the school isn’t conscious about racism, which could be because of a lack of diversity in the institution.
The pupil was a member of Brackenfell High School alumni who penned an open letter that was sent to the principal and SGB chairperson recently.
Former pupils are finding the freedom to speak openly about their lived experiences of racism – from subliminal remarks to hateful speech, they said in the letter.
“One cannot fully heal unless you open the wound.”
“I’m really disappointed that they only established a diversity committee once we started complaining about racism in the school,” the pupil said.
“Also they don’t mention that it was the students who formulated the memorandum that said the school should have diversity (training). My understanding is that the school isn’t conscious about racism but that could be because of the lack of diversity in the school.”