Petition calls for punitive measures to be taken against DSK teacher for alleged racist remarks
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Cape Town – Following the allegations of racist remarks made by the Life Orientation teacher at the German International School (DSK) , more than 1 000 people have signed a petition calling for the school to not only take punitive measures against the accused perso but also have a comprehensive plan going forward.
This comes after students had an anti-racism protest on May 31 after allegations that a teacher made derogatory comments insinuating that children of colour are less likely to achieve academic success based on inherent intellectual inferiority relating to the colour of their skin.
The petition letter reads: “Protests have flared up again and this time the issue will not go unnoticed. We are against the DSK fostering a culture of discrimination, teachers upholding apartheid ideologies and admin silencing students.”
According to an ex DSK pupil who asked to remain anonymous, this is not the first racist occurrence the teacher has been involved in. She said that many other former pupils had also experienced racism and the school is yet to do something.
“They were never inclusive, I tended to gravitate more towards my peers who were of colour because I felt like that's the only place I was accepted. Only in Grade 5, my black and people of colour friend group and I started to feel very out of place because our white class teacher had favourites in the classroom, all being white.”
“We stuck together since Grade 5 and throughout high school. My friend group and I were often labelled as ’ratchet’ ’wild’ and ’problematic’. I remember one time a white girl approached us very abruptly for singing in the corridor because we were ’loud’ but it was during break time.
“She continued to make rude comments and it lead to a big argument. It was reported to the school head. My black and POC friend group and I received written warnings for ’bullying’ when we were just defending ourselves. We also had a meeting with the school head and they told us that she had also received a written warning but we later discovered that she actually didn't get one at all.”
“We were all in a state of distress receiving these written warnings because we all had bursaries /sponsorships (we were of colour and could not afford to pay the full school fees) at the school. They, therefore, threatened that we would lose our bursaries/sponsorships if we did not behave accordingly. They used our disadvantages to silence us. To never make use of our voice.”
“People of colour (POC) in the English stream tend to stick together and it has been like that for years. They claim that there is diversity and inclusivity but I never ever felt it. If they aim to promote inclusivity then why is there still segregation within the institution?”
The pupil continued: “Also, another discrimination was towards my religion. Every year during the holy Month of Ramadaan, I would wear my Hijab and I was asked every year by a white German teacher, who held a high position at the school, to write an email as to why I was wearing my Hijab and for how long. He even took me out of assembly one day to pester me about the email that had to be sent. I felt like crying. I told my parents about this and they refused to write the email because it was quite absurd. I had to then avoid him whenever I saw him in school because I was scared he would give me detention or another written warning for not sending the e-mail.
“It is quite evident that most black and POC learners have left DSK and felt much happier and will not go back because of all the trauma we experienced. It's so sad and disheartening that learners are still experiencing this discrimination and exclusion. It needs to end and big change needs to happen to move forward. I would never want anyone else to experience what I did at that place,” she said.
The school’s headmaster Alexander P. Kirmse said that given the seriousness of the allegations, the school temporarily suspended the teacher and instituted a disciplinary process in accordance with school policy.
“The disciplinary hearing was chaired by an external labour law expert and statements from the students and teacher were presented. Counselling was made available to the students. The school has followed all the recommendations in the report compiled by the independent expert.
“At the DSK diversity and inclusion are integral and essential pillars of our school, and the DSK strongly condemns any behaviour that seeks to discriminate.
“The DSK is committed to the dignified and fair treatment of everyone within the school community, irrespective of colour, race, ethnic or national origin, language, social class, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religious beliefs, conscience, pregnancy, family responsibility, marital or health status. We do not tolerate any violations of these fundamental principles,” said Kirmse.