No referendum on school’s name change
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CAPE TOWN - The School Governing Body (SGB) of DF Malan Hoërskool, in Bellville, has declined a request for a referendum by a group of parents and alumni who are rejecting the school’s name change.
The school which was founded in 1951, is named after former apartheid prime minister Daniël François Malan, DF Malan, who served from 1948 to 1954.
During his incumbency, apartheid policies and violations were cemented, by the then National Party.
The school shared that following months-long consultations with its school community, they have decided to start the process to review aspects of the school's symbolism, including its name.
A group rejecting a possible name change have since started a Facebook page named ‘Trots DF Malan’ to mobilise support with learners, parents, alumni and the broader community in order to ensure that the high school is not “hijacked by a full-scale transformation agenda”.
The group says that a decision by the SGB to change the school's name would be undemocratic and in their opinion, ‘“misleading”.
SGB chairperson Andre Roux said they have been in discussion with the group and have tabled their request for a referendum at the last governing body meeting, where it was declined.
“There were a number of conditions attached to the referendum, which the governing body would not have been able to accede to in any event, and also, we believe the process of facilitated consultation we had instituted during the second half of last year was the better process to follow.
“The process allowed more parties more opportunities to provide input. We are in the closing stages of this process and do not believe it is in the best interest of the school community to now undo the process of constructive dialogue in favour of a referendum, which by its very nature will be polarising to the community,” he said.
Roux said the school's name is under consideration for a change, to break its association with Dr DF Malan and the role he played in putting apartheid into law.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond said the process to change the name of the school is still underway.
“The SGB of the school has been clear of its intention to change the name of the school, and are consulting widely on the issue. Like many issues, there may be different voices or opinions on the matter. The process continues,” Hammond said.
ANC education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said all schools with names that are offensive, derogatory or which worship and celebrate apartheid heroes have to be changed.
“As a leapfrog towards progressive and prosperous South Africa, these apartheid names, emblems and signage’s in our schools must fall,” he said.
Chumani Maxwele of Black People’s National Crisis Committee said DF Malan was not a symbol of unity.