Cape Town - Celebrating the 128th anniversary of the school's existence, Rustenburg Girls' Junior School is revamping its image around the concepts of change and diversity.
The school was previously mired in a racial controversy over the termination of one of its teachers of colour and as a way of moving forward, it plans on purposefully hiring teachers of colour to create a more diverse and transformative environment.
Principal Belinda Petersen, said the school had been through many changes since 1894 and continued to transform to be relevant for the girls of the present and the future.
“The Inclusion, Diversity, and Transformation (IDT) sub-committee of the SGB was formed in 2018, in order to have a cross-functional stakeholder group that is committed and focused on breaking down institutional barriers at the school that lead to exclusion, preferential treatment, and unfair practices.
“The IDT was formed and a call to action was sent throughout the school to invite parents and staff to participate and contribute much-needed skills, knowledge, and experience to shift where the school was in the inclusion space, " Petersen said.
“In line with the WCED Transform to Perform initiative (T2P), a truly transformative strategy designed to change the heart and mind of education in the province. By transforming, one can believe in their own future and the impact they can have in interaction and performance. One can deliver on their commitment and what people expect them to do,” said Petersen.
Having attended the school first as a pupil and now as the school librarian, Jenny Wates said that she hoped things do change going forward especially with Covid-19 coming into the mix and redirecting perceptions.
"I celebrated my 27th birthday at school and it's been a privilege to work under different heads during that time. Even then, it was fantastic to see the calibre of teachers."
“Going forward, we want to see girls become more accepting of one another's backgrounds and differences, and as one of the ex-pupils mentioned in her speech, I think it is quite important to take note that there is so much happening out there affecting young girls. They must believe in themselves, trust who they are, and be the best version of themselves in unity with one another to propel (forward),“ said Wates.
With RGJS' legacy of providing comprehensive education to pupils as a tool to thrive, Petersen added that she looked forward to continued focus on a revitalized sense of excellence in an environment that embraced inclusivity.
"We want to marry our strong historical foundation with evolving relevance in the 21st century and in present-day South Africa. RGJS has a rich history of quality, holistic education and has given many learners the tools they need to excel in life. I look forward to continued emphasis on a renewed sense of excellence in a space that celebrates inclusion, diversity, and equity," said Petersen.