While racism remains present in our reality, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) believes that the youth holds the key to its eradication and education.
Together with Unicef and the Agape Youth Movement, the innovative organisation hosted a number of learners from across the country to discuss what racial challenges they are being faced with in the school system on 23 June.
According to Likho Bottoman, deputy director of Social Mobilisation and Support Services at the Department of Basic Education, it is imperative to encourage the youth to engage in topics that both influence and affect them. “We are happy to have this opportunity to chat to young people so that they can teach us how to best address [racism] because I do realise that it is much different for adults and education officials compared to the learners,” he said.
Also Read: More than 20 schools in SA accused of racism
Bottonman extended his apologies from the department to any learners who may have been at the receiving end of any racial acts, both physical and verbal. “It should never happen this way and it should be discouraged.” He added that the department currently has a framework in place called ‘Care and Support for Teaching and Learning’ which centres around helping children realise their right to education.
“Explain to them what racism is, explain to them that it does not only happen across races but also from within a race itself. This is so that when they get older, they begin to understand it more and don’t be racist.”
Learner Akimu Hakiemo added that while educating the youth would be a good start, it is important for schools to take part in culturally relevant teaching. “Teachers can create learning spaces that acknowledged various races, ethnicities and priorities to prevent racism through the soul of justices.
“Yes, talking about racism can make people uncomfortable but with the proper planning and input from learners, it can change into a life-changing experience. Learners can also take these practices back home to where the struggle starts, in the community, between friends and every social media.”
A learner who identified herself as Gomolemo emphasised that the youth must realise the important role that they play in achieving a racism-free school system. “Racism is taught, is it not something that we are born with so with the help of education and perspective, we are able to teach other people to spread the love without any thought for race.”
David Ndabazandile encourages his generation to not let the colour of their skin define who they are. “Learners should understand that we are not our races and we should not treat each other based on previous occurrences.”