ANC Western Cape Lambasts Education Dept over Racism Allegations against Top School

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The ANC of the Western Cape has blasted the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) following racism allegations aimed at Rustenburg Girls' Junior School after the retrenchment of a black teacher.

This followed a report on Friday that the teacher, Nozipho Mthembu, who was also a former pupil at the top school, had resigned after a fraught period in which her performance was questioned.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was involved, the report said. The teacher said she did not experience racism, but had felt undermined and unsupported.

"The ANC is deeply concerned with the manner in which the young teacher was treated at the school and was forced to resign," ANC Western Cape education spokesperson Theo Olivier said.

"It is also shocking that SGBs [school governing bodies] and principals at former Model C schools have become a law unto themselves and some oppose the country's transformation agenda. This is what gives rise to the attitude of learners there that see black teachers as care takers and givers, but not real teachers."

Olivier claims that education MEC Debbie Schäfer and the WCED failed to act despite being aware of the situation.

"This shows that for as long as Schäfer remains in office, racism in Western Cape schools will continue unabated, as she appears to be opposed to transformation," he added.

Schäfer fired back by saying that Olivier was not acquainted with the full facts surrounding Mthembu's resignation.

"As usual, their point of departure is that if a person of colour is dismissed, it must be racism," she said in a statement.  

"He has clearly made no attempt to find out the facts in this matter, and whether there were good reasons for Ms Mthembu's resignation."

Schäfer also claims that the department was not aware of allegations of racism involving Mthembu.

"At the time we were also not aware of allegations of racism involving this educator. The educator was employed by the school governing body and not the WCED," she clarified.

"The department therefore was not aware of the processes relating to the teacher's appointment and subsequent resignation."

She conceded that general issues regarding the lack of transformation at the school have been raised and said that the head of department is having discussions in order to resolve them.

"We are committed to building an inclusive society for all, and quality education for every child in every classroom in every school in the province, and will continue to work towards this," Schäfer said.

Source: News24