School authorities at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in South Africa are facing severe backlash after a photo circulated of black grade R children seated separately from their white classmates in a group picture that was taken by their teacher on their first day of school.
According to TimesLIVE, the photo, which shows eighteen white children seated together on a long desk with their four black classmates seated separately on another desk in the corner of the classroom was shared by the teacher on the school’s WhatsApp page.
Speaking with TimesLIVE, a mother of one of the four black kids, who saw the picture shared how devastated and angry she was.
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“This was meant to be an exciting day for me but it’s not,” she said.
“All I saw was messages from the white parents saying ‘dankie, dankie’ (‘thank you, thank you’) but no one was saying anything about the separation of the learners,” she added.
She continued that she contacted another parent to talk about the situation, and that parent subsequently got in touch with the school principal for clarifications on why their kids were separated. The principal, however, said she knew nothing about the seating arrangement, according to TimesLIVE.
The picture, which has since gone viral on social media received a lot of condemnation from people accusing the school authorities of racism.
On Thursday, the North West Education and Sport Development member of the executive council (MEC), Sello Lehari together with other senior managers visited the school to investigate the incident.
“On behalf of the department, I wish to condemn in its strongest terms any allegation of racism in our schools which contradict the constitution of our country,” Lehari said.
The SowetanLIVE, also reported that Lehari confirmed the teacher in question has been suspended.
The incident, which also saw scores of locals trooping to the school to protest on Thursday caused some parents of some of the white pupils in the school to take their children back home for safety reasons, according to SowetanLIVE.
A white parent, who spoke with SowetanLIVE about the incident taunted black parents to take their kids to township schools if they were dissatisfied with the way the school was treating them.
“If you are not happy here, take your child to another school, nobody is forcing you. Now they want to make this as if its racism, everyone just wants to make white people racists, we are not racists, we just want what was best for our children,” the parent said.
Here are a few more reactions to the racist incident on social media: