Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea


Curro’s racist incidents ‘can’t be ignored’ – psychologist

This was not the first time Curro has been accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes and discrimination, according to parents.

Once again, Curro Holdings finds itself under scrutiny for its failure to address racial insensitivity at its schools, igniting a firestorm of criticism and reigniting concerns about its track record on racial sensitivity.

In a statement, Curro acknowledged “a post we published on social media portraying children in various workplace contexts was offensive due to the inappropriate stereotypes it depicted. The post was in error and has been deleted”.

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This was not the first time Curro has been accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes and discrimination, according to parents.

Psychologist and childhood development expert Dr Mary Chabuda said “the repeated incidents of racism within Curro schools highlighted a disturbing pattern which cannot be ignored”.

Chabuda said despite previous allegations and promises of commitment to diversity and nonracialism, the institution continues to grapple with issues of racial bias and discrimination.

‘Traumatic impact’

“The traumatic impact of these incidents on the pupils cannot be overstated. Children are highly sensitive to their environments and experiences and incidents of discrimination or racism can have profound effect on their psychological well-being and sense of self-worth,” she said.

Chabuda added that even if children may not fully understand or consciously process the discrimination they experience, it could still leave a lasting impression on their subconscious minds.

“This can manifest in various ways, including feelings of inferiority, self-doubt, anxiety, and even internalised racism.

“Moreover, repeated exposure to racism or discrimination can exacerbate these effects, creating a sense of ongoing stress and insecurity. This can, in turn, negatively impact children’s academic performance, social interactions and overall mental health.”

Parents, unions, and experts have expressed deep disappointment and frustration with Curro’s handling of these incidents – emphasising the need for more than just apologies.

Calls for accountability and meaningful action to address systemic racism within the organisation have grown louder with the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) noting it was deeply disturbed by more reports of racism.

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“Racism was institutionalised for over three centuries. We shouldn’t be surprised by anything. If it disappears, we should be quite surprised. But nonetheless, we should be concerned when it happens,” said the union federation’s national spokesperson Matthew Parks.

“Children shouldn’t have to go through that. It’s a reminder that we need to all kind of keep an eye out for those things.

“To prevent it from happening again, it’s unfortunate, but I think we have our laws in place. So when those things happen, people do need to be held accountable.”

Parks said it was hard to say if it’s a pattern.

‘Sends a very negative message’

“Some of these companies are quite large companies but, nonetheless, it’s something the company should reflect on.

“So, for instance, within this company, in a short space of time, it sends a very negative message. It’s a company which always turns the blind eye to it, which might even be kind of inculcated in that culture.

“Whether intentionally or unintentionally, there’s definitely a reflection of the company to take into account and to actually tell the public what they’re doing to address it.”

A parent, Mpho Mabuse, reflected on the saga of Nonkululeko Gwatyu, a former teacher at Curro Academy in Protea Glen, Soweto, who recently filed a case of discrimination against the school, alleging unfair dismissal after speaking out against racism. Mabuse said the occurrences of racism demanded more than just denials.

“They require concrete actions to address underlying issues of racial bias and discrimination.”

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