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Cornwall Hill College making strides to eradicate racism at private school

A file picture of past and present learners and parents protesting against racism and the lack of transformation and diversity at Cornwall Hill College. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of past and present learners and parents protesting against racism and the lack of transformation and diversity at Cornwall Hill College. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 13, 2022

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Pretoria - The beleaguered leadership of Cornwall Hill College has, at last, heard the voices of its learners and parents by announcing solid progress in achieving its transformation and diversity objectives.

The school recently announced that against the backdrop of the myriad complaints from learners at the school – both past and present, the school management had heeded the messages and put in the work required to ensure that the culture, community and curriculum were incorporated into the strategy of the school.

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Even though the school alleged that its pace in transforming the school had steadily increased, it admitted that there was still much more work to be done.

To date, the school said it had adopted “Belonging” as its central value, with the school management striving towards creating a safe environment where all felt welcome, experienced affirmation, appreciation and acceptance, with all being free from anxiety and pressure to adapt who they are in order to fit in.

Furthermore, it announced it had also endorsed Anti-Discrimination as its statement in the very purpose of the school.

The school said in the past year it had actively engaged the South African Human Rights Commission, the Independent Schools Association of South Africa and the Department of Basic Education on the transformation work being done at the school.

Overall it announced that as of 2021, the school had introduced the Dignity and Anti-Discrimination Policy, with a focused platform established within the Parents' Association, to address diversity and transformation through authentic and inclusive discussions.

In addition to that, an internal team of teachers and specialists had, according to the school, been established to ensure that every facet of the school experience was reviewed through a transformation and inclusion lens.

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As of May last year, the school said all staff were put through ongoing diversity management training, which it claimed would continue alongside refresher programmes to be introduced in the future.

In the past year, 13 new black teachers, as well as 24 black intern teachers, were hired, with the school claiming it had ensured an average of 40% of new enrolments in 2022 were black children.

“While we celebrate the strides made in the past year in driving transformation and increasing inclusiveness in the school, the board and management are committed to progressively and intentionally working to further the transformation opportunities.

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“We make a firm assertion that Cornwall Hill College belongs to all who attend our school. We recognise that the dignity of each pupil is both an objective and goal, and to this, we are committed,” said board chairperson Prithinee Naidoo.

Leon Kunneke, the school’s executive principal, added: “Everything we do is in the interest of our children at the school. We have children of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, and we have the responsibility to actively promote tolerance and inclusion among both staff and pupils.”

Kunneke said the school management had spent a considerable amount of time consulting learners and parents who raised concerns about the pace of the transformation agenda at the school, but also took the opportunity to apologise to the school’s past learners who decried the alleged racism at the school.

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“I have been at the helm of leadership at the school since the start, and where we have not met our obligation to every child, we will try to do so.”

Pretoria News

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