Top East London school ordered to tackle reconciliation and transformation amid racism claims

The provincial education department has ordered the school to enter into a conversation around reconciliation and transformation.

Clarendon High School for Girls is one of many former Model C schools where former and past pupils have detailed on social media incidents of alleged institutional racism at South African schools.

This following the death of black US citizen George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, which sparked global Black Lives Matter protests.

The Eastern Cape education department said it has launched an investigation into the allegations made against the prestigious Clarendon High School for Girls in East London.

Department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said it also instructed the school’s headmistress Julie Patrick to have a conversation with the entire community.

Pulumani said: “The school was also advised to have a conversation to see if there is a need for reconciliation and transformation that will be done but the first thing is investigation on allegations.”

Pulumani said the allegations, now a subject of investigation by the department’s legal team, were made on the school’s Facebook page.

The allegations were laid bare after a letter was posted on the page condemning racism and discrimination.

This is after a dialogue on the subject had been started on the school’s Facebook page which has an audience of 3 600 people.

The letter issued by the school’s governing body was slammed by former pupils and parents as a public relations stunt and paying lip service.

The letter said: “We acknowledge with great concern the dialogue on the Clarendon Facebook page that highlighted issues and incidences of racism and discrimination at the school.

“We accept that difficult truths must be heard. As a school, we stand against racism and any forms of prejudice.”

In the comments section, a Facebook user replied: “How about an apology? Not that it will undo the mental damage done to us but show some empathy.”

Another person alleged that her daughter was told by a teacher she was not of Clarendon calibre and should go back to a township school, in Mdantsane.

Countrywide protests

News24 previously reported that students from former Model C schools in Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, as well as KwaZulu-Natal and others, have posted their experiences of alleged racism at their schools by teachers and fellow students.

Some schools involved in these allegations include Trinityhouse Randpark Ridge in Gauteng, Wynberg Girls’ High, Bishops Diocesan College and Herschel Girls School in the Western Cape.

Pulumani said: “The district departmental officials went to the school and as things stand, an avenue has been opened for learners to report the matters amid the ongoing investigation.”

Patrick declined to comment and referred questions to Pulumani.

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