Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Education has threatened to de-register any private or independent school that is found to be racist.
After visiting the Curro Roodeplaat Foundation School in the north of Pretoria on Monday, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he had instituted an inquiry to investigate racism at private and independent schools in the province.
He also wants the schools to adopt a transformation charter, a move welcomed by the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa), which represents over 730 private and independent schools.
Curro Holdings is not affiliated to the organisation.
Isasa executive director Lebogang Montjane said nearly 50 percent of the 161 000 pupils in their schools are black.
He said the organisation could share its transformation lessons with other schools.
“Beyond embracing diversity, in 2008 Isasa established a transformation and diversity committee, which is a subcommittee of the Isasa council. The work of this committee is to assist schools with their transformation and diversity initiatives,” Montjane explained.
He said that in 2012, Isasa produced a transformation and diversity toolkit for schools, and last year, added it to its list of workshops for member schools.
The Roodeplaat school has been caught up in a racism furore after it segregated pupils according to race.
Two weeks ago, about 30 black parents submitted a petition to the school, complaining about the segregation.
After his visit to the school on Monday, Lesufi said he would announce at the end of the week who would be leading the inquiry, and would expect a report on June 16 - the 39th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto school uprisings.
“I hate racism with a passion. I’m addicted to non-racialism. I will not allow a Grade R learner to be reminded of apartheid in this country. I will not allow any child to be reminded about where we come from as a country,” he said.
Lesufi said he was inundated with calls from parents of pupils in other private and independent schools complaining about racism at their schools, and that was why he had instituted the probe.
“This is going to be a sector-wide inquiry,” he pointed out.
He has threatened to revoke licences of schools that promote racism and said private schools needed to know they were not “immune from the laws of the country”.
If it were up to Lesufi, the inquiry would be nationwide.
“I feel that it is beyond the boundaries of Gauteng. I am willing to engage the other MECs and the minister to check if we can’t broaden it beyond the boundaries of Gauteng.”
He was not stopping with the inquiry, but wanted the sector to adopt a transformation charter. “I feel that the sector needs to be regulated. So I am convening a meeting in the next two weeks with all private schools in Gauteng. The purpose is so that we have a transformation charter that can be adopted by the sector,” he said.
Despite concerns that moving the pupils from their classes would affect them, Lesufi said integration should begin immediately.