Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lusufi visited Cornwall Hill College in Centurion on Monday morning. This comes after students as well as their parents embarked on a peaceful protest, accusing the school of failing to address ongoing racial discrimination against its black students.
During his brief address, the MEC spoke strongly against racism and went on to thank the parents for standing in solidarity with their children in the fight against racism:
I want to thank all the parents for standing on the side of their children, because whoever hates a child that person is not a human being.
The MEC further said, "I want to thank the leadership of the school for welcoming us and accepting that something is not right".
He further reassured the parents that he has had discussions with the school's leadership to correct the ongoing issue and ensure that the school is more racially inclusive.
"My discussion with them was very clear. Go back to the negotiating table, resolve all outstanding problems and ensure everyone is welcomed in this school".
After calling out the school for racial discrimination on black students for their hair texture, the MEC also went on to commit on behalf of the school that racism has come to end with in the school:
To the leadership of this school, to the parents and to all of you my children. I can tell you now that racism and declaring it, racism ends here and no further.
Following this, one of the students at the school gave her account of her experience before breaking into tears, "My first and most vivid memory of racism happened when I was only in grade four."
"I was happily on my way to break when a teacher stopped me, she had a big frown that encompassed her whole face and swallowed me whole. She looked me dead in the eyes and said 'Your hair is unpresentable. It is messy and it's not the Cornwall Way'. She also told me that I would look better if I chemically straightened my hair." said the student.
She further added that discrimination towards her identity came in other forms as well "And that stripping of my identity didn't end there."
She continues, "It continued when I was barred from speaking my home language with my classmates, while simultaneously having math lessons turned into Wiskunde." She further explains that in these instances, "it became clear that my home language and culture were second to that of Afrikaans."
During the conclusion of his address the MEC of Education went on to state that there will be review of the the school's policies in order to ensure the school's commitment to inclusivity.
"I can commit on behalf of this is school that no one will be mistreated from now on. I commit on behalf of this school that we will have teachers that represent all of us in this school. I can commit on behalf of this school that all the policies will be reviewed so that all these policies must accommodate all of us", he said