In a recent incident, parents from the Roodepoort Primary School community expressed their discontent with the appoint of an administrator who they believe is a product of racism in education. Since then, the administration has been replaced with the delight of the many parents who objected to the appointment. The demonstration by the Roodepoort parents provides South Africa an opportunity to overcome the problems associated with racism in education.
The article points out that the 1994 project of Reconciliation may not be working. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.
The TRC, the first of the nineteen held internationally to stage public hearings, was seen by many as a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa. Despite some flaws, it is generally (although not universally) thought to have been successful.
The reason that the author may believe that the 1994 project of Reconciliation may not have worked is due to the response of the Roodepoort Primary School parents. According to the article the racism in education began with the appointment of a Black principal and her deputies. When a black principal and her deputies were appointed, the coloured parents cried foul and demanded that a coloured principal be appointed. The coloured parents also prevented children from entering the school premises. Last week 19 coloured teachers did not report for duty and only black teachers were on the school premises.
In Southern Africa, the term Coloureds (also known as Bruinmense, Kleurlinge or Bruine Afrikaners in Afrikaans) is an ethnic label for people of mixed ethnic origin who possess ancestry from Europe, Asia, and various Khoisan and Bantu tribes of Southern Africa. Besides the extensive combining of these diverse heritages in the Western Cape — in which a distinctive Cape Coloured and affiliated Cape Malay culture developed — in other parts of Southern Africa, their development has usually been the result of the meeting of two distinct groups. Genetic studies suggest the group has the highest levels of mixed ancestry in the world. However, the maternal (female) contribution to the Coloured population, measured by mitochondrial DNA studies, was found to come mostly from the Khoisan population.
Due to this incident of racism in education, South Africa will have to address four major challenges. The first challenge is between the Black teachers and the Coloured teachers. The article indicates teacher behavior that is paramount to how Black and White teachers interact in schools in the United States. Normally, since the Black teachers are in the minority, the White culture will dominate the values of the school. You will also find this prevalent in South African schools. The majority ethnicity of the teaching staff will dominate the school culture. The Black and Coloured teachers will benefit from a team building process designed to reduce the perception of racism in education by uniting the teaching and administrative staff as one united front with the perspective of enhancing the quality of life for all of their students.
What is best for the school is that the culture enhances the educational experience of the students. Black students will find it beneficial to interact with Coloured teachers. For example, one of the biggest problems that White students have in the United States that attend all White schools is that as they enter the workforce, if they have an immediate supervisor that is not White they eventually quit their job because they have not had the benefit of interacting with authoritative figure of a different race.
The Roodepoort Primary School parents will find it beneficial for their children to interact with Coloured teachers and White teachers. This transition will require that teachers transition the parents perceptions of their intentions.
The second challenge is the perception of racism in education that Roodepoort Primary School parents have regarding Coloured administrators. This will require that future Coloured administrators involve themselves in a team building process with Black parents which will focus on enhancing the education of all children who attend the school.
The third challenge is the perception that the Black and Coloured community have regarding which teachers are the best teachers for their children at the Roodepoort Primary School. This will take the effort of bringing the community together to develop an overall strategic plan that will enhance the overall community.
The fouth challenge is the perception that the Roodepoort Primary School parents have of the Coloured teachers. The best way to offset this distrust is to enhance the perception that Black students have regarding Coloured teachers. This will require that Coloured teachers eliminate alleged racism in education by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.
South Africa: Gauteng Premier Condemns Racism in Schools
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
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