Parents at Rustenburg Girls’ Primary School held a press conference this week to express their concerns about the resistance to transformation at the school. Photo: Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Rustenburg Girls’ Primary School Governing Body (SGB) has refused to step down despite mounting calls from parents to do so, to prioritise transformation at the former Model C school.

This week a group calling themselves Parents for Change lifted the lid on two years of struggle to implement transformation policies and the alleged inaction of the provincial education department and school officials.

The group called for the department to dissolve the current SGB, which had posed significant resistance.

They were also facing opposition from other parents, with one parent at a meeting even saying: "When you take in black kids, your standards drop."

The parents spoke out following a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) process last week, where the SGB apologised to teacher Nozipho Mthembu, who said she had been unfairly discriminated against and asked to resign or face a disciplinary hearing for reasons she had yet to be informed about.

Mthembu was the school’s first black African teacher and a former pupil. She said she had been told some parents had questioned her competency and had been unhappy that she was teaching their children.

The CCMA acknowledged that unfair labour practices were used by the school.

The SGB said it, along with the school’s management team and staff, recognised that although there had been a number of changes over the last few years, there was still work to be done in transforming the school in terms of the demographic profile of pupils and staff and other areas.

“Members of the SGB considered the call by Parents for Change to resign. The unanimous decision was that there is no merit in the entire SGB stepping down at this time members also unanimously expressed a vote of confidence in the current chairperson.”

The SGB said it had previously engaged with Parents for Change and remained open to further engagement.

Parent and associate professor at Stellenbosch University Nuraan Davids said she was not surprised by the SGB’s decision.

“For them to resign would mean recognising that we are at this point because of their actions. They would have to recognise change is necessary.

“It is not just the SGB we are asking for an end to, we are asking for an end to an era. We are realising the battle is much bigger than we thought,” Davids said.

Provincial Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “We will, again, offer to meet shortly, and recommend external specialist mediation.”

Cape Times