Black learners at Pretoria High school for Girls gathered damning evidence against their school which they presented to Gauteng MEC of Education, Panyaza Lesufi, during talks at the school to deal with underlying issues of racism when it came to language policy and the school’s code of conduct on how black girls should wear their hair.
Learners assigned themselves to different teachers and noted down every incident in which they considered to be racially prejudiced.
Some evidence the learners brought forward revealed that:
  • The use of African languages on the school premises not being tolerated, while other learners are allowed to express themselves in Afrikaans
  • Learners feel that they are not allowed to wear Black hairstyles, such as an Afro. The school policy limits the length of the hairstyle.
  • The learners believe educators use abusive and demeaning language when they address them regarding their hairstyles. For instance some educators tell them they look like monkeys, or have nests on their heads.
  • Racial abuse and victimisation by both white educators and white learners, in particular the use of hurtful terms such as monkeys, kaffir, and being told black learners belong at Mamelodi High and not at Pretoria Girls.
  • In one incident a white learner told a black learner she does not need a pencil but should rather use her finger since it was black enough. Some white learners complained in a music class that they are being taught kaffir music when the teacher was trying to teach them an African folk song.
  • Management and senior officials in the school deal flippantly with, or in ignore learners’ complaints about racial abuse and victimisation. For example, the learners complained that they are told to ‘get over it’ or ‘toughen up’ this is not a primary school.

The Gauteng Department of education has ordered the school to immediately suspend its code of conduct that deals with hair and will has launched an investigation on the schools deployment of police and security officers against the protesting learners.
The girls will also receive psychological councelling to assist with the trauma they have suffered and that the school must ensure that good performance must continue as they have done in their National Senior Certificate examination.