Cape Town - After their protest on Friday, the matrics at Bishops Diocesan College have taken a stand against, racism, discrimination and systemic oppression and listed their 20 demands in a memorandum.
The matric learners at Bishops Diocesan College held a protest and drafted a memorandum documenting a list of their demands and experiences of racism and discrimination which they handed over to the school.
"We are approaching you as a matric year in its entirety, and not as a certain demographic or minority, to demand that action is taken to ensure that every one of our fellow students are treated as equals within a system that has, for so long, treated them as anything but." the pupils said in a memorandum (which can be seen in full below).
Pupils from more than 20 elite Cape high schools have also exposed what they deem blatant racism at private and former Model C schools.
This is the list of demands that Bishops matrics want to be implemented at the school:
- They demand that ground and cleaning staff’s children should have access to the same bursaries and funding schemes that are made available to teachers’ children. Ground and cleaning staff should also have access to better quality facilities and food.
- They demand that there be compulsory discussions and presentations for new grade 8’s about the oppression of minority and vulnerable groups. These should be handled by external bodies and not be done “in-house”.
- They demand compulsory discussions and presentations for teachers about the oppression of minority and vulnerable groups. These should be handled by external bodies and not be done “in-house”.
- They demand discussions and presentations for parents about the oppression of minority and vulnerable groups. These should be handled by external bodies and not be done “in-house”.
- They demand the elimination of a hair policy - no policy is free from discrimination.
- They demand a more equitable representation of minority and vulnerable groups on the executive board, and in the OD union committee.
- They demand that a system be created which allows students to regularly engage directly with the executive committee as "the SRF is a farce".
- They demand a separate, diverse disciplinary committee which deals with issues pertaining to the oppression of minority and vulnerable groups. They suggest that this should not be done “in-house” to avoid cover-ups.
- They demand that staff face repercussions for any actions which oppress minority and vulnerable groups.
- They demand that students face harsher repercussions for any actions which oppress minority and vulnerable groups.
- They demand an official statement from the school condemning racism and all oppression of minority and vulnerable groups as well as acknowledging its history of racism and negligence in dealing with social issues.
- They demand the expansion and endorsement of isiXhosa at Bishops.
- They demand a system in which students can report teachers for racism, sexism, queerphobia and other forms of discrimination, either anonymously or not anonymously, so that more students are willing to come forward about these actions.
- They demand certain LO lessons be put aside for discussions around contemporary social issues (racism, feminism, queer identities etc) in the world, but more specifically South Africa.
- They demand that the syllabus be decolonised. Historical events such as colonialism and apartheid "can no longer be taught as historically neutral, but must be recognised as what they were: the invasion and terrorisation of native African and non-white people". They demads that this should apply to the Prep and College.
- They demand that teachers and students should not be allowed to say “the N-word”, “the K-word”, or other oppressive slurs pertaining to protected identities, in academic/literary readings/discussions, or outside of the classroom. This would not apply to people victimised by these slurs.
- They demand safe spaces and forums for minority students or students from vulnerable groups. The matrics said that these spaces should serve the purpose of being a space where vulnerable students can seek refuge from the harms Bishops confronts them with. "Under no circumstances should white people enter POC safe spaces, and non-LGBTQI+ people should not be allowed in queer safe spaces."
- They demand the establishment of a Pride society at Bishops in order to provide a safe space and a platform for our LGBTQI+ students.
- They demand the establishment of a feminist society to promote womxn’s empowerment, and the eradication of rape culture at Bishops.
- Their final demand is for all teachers, and people in management positions in Bishops, to pledge to enact and uphold the aforementioned demands. "Each teacher and person in a managerial position must individually sign these demands, and present their signed copies to the matrics to show their commitment to bettering this community. This must be done by the beginning of next term (June 28 2020). These demands are non-negotiable," the matric said.
Guy Pearson, outgoing principal of Bishops, said his executive team had received the memorandum.
“This will be an ideal opportunity to continue the engagement with all members of our community regarding these issues in our school,” Pearson said.
“We are committed to making Bishops a welcoming environment for all who learn and work here, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”
* Additional reporting by Chelsea Geach.