Teachers need racism-sensitivity training‚ say clergymen

Teachers need to go through special training to handle multi-racial schools better, pastors said at a media briefing in Tshwane.

Reacting to the Pretoria High School for Girls protest‚ five senior pastors said such training is needed to dismantle Apartheid culture in former white-only schools.

The pastors spoke at a press briefing in Tshwane on Thursday.

“It is proposed that educators undergo racism-sensitivity training in order to equip themselves better to teach in a race-sensitive environment‚” said the clergymen in a statement read by Anglican Bishop Allan Kannemeyer.

“In this [Pretoria Girls High] instance it seems that at the heart of the problem is that with many educators and managers of schools‚ there is no understanding‚ wisdom or skill in managing a society of diverse cultures.

“We appeal to government to provide more than is presently the case to undo the damage that we have all suffered under apartheid. Apartheid was a carefully engineered social construct.

“It needs to be dismantled with equal care. If not‚ we shall continue to have incidents of racism wherever the diverse people of our land congregate.”

Pupils at Pretoria High School for Girls‚ some as young as 13‚ protested regulations around hair, with black scholars saying that they were not allowed to wear their hair naturally and had been forced to straighten their hair.

The code of conduct regarding hair at the school has been suspended after government officials intervened.

Said the clergymen: “We are of the opinion that what is happening is only but a microcosm of the bigger problem where marginalisation along racial lines is still an evil that continues to bedevil our country.

“If this is not adequately dealt with‚ it threatens to reverse the gains we have made so far as a young democracy.

“It is particularly disturbing and telling of the society we have become‚ where young children are at the forefront of what should be an adult discussion that will yield adequate solutions.”