On the backdrop of international protests for racial equality, local pupils have begun to speak out on their personal experiences of discrimination during their schooling career.
Durban Girls’ College (DGC), came under the spotlight this week as past pupils spoke of their alleged experiences.
The old girls of the school took to social media and made statements, tweeted, and posted videos of themselves venting about jabs taken at their expense by peers and teachers.
One of the girls recalled being ordered to cut off her religious red string from her wrist in front of her teacher.
While another remembered the event where a teacher threatened to take a pupil to the barber and have her dreadlocks shaved off as the teacher found them offensive.
The outrage was sparked by an email sent by the head of student affairs about the use of social media to discuss the death of George Floyd, who was a victim of police brutality, in the US.
It began by stating that while the school “abhors physical violence” it warned that “your commitment to DGC and integrity must ensure that you use good judgement in your use of social media as you represent the school. This includes not putting other people under pressure to post opinions.”
Melissa Ngcobo, a 2016 DGC matriculant, penned an email to the school which called out the school for not acknowledging Floyd’s death as a racist attack.
“The email sent on behalf of the school to the students is very telling of the values you hold so tightly. The email makes sure to state that they are against acts of violence against anyone, but fails to acknowledge that this was a racist attack and does not state that you are against racism itself.”
Ngcobo said during her time at the school she recalled an incident in Pretoria where girls were discriminated against for their hair.
“Do you remember when the black girls were told not to move in large groups because the white teachers and white headmaster were now afraid of these young girls and their ability to speak out on such issues?”
A petition has since been started by current pupils of DGC with the aim of showing DGC the number of people that could identify with the overlooked issue of racism and discrimination at the school.
It has so far garnered over 5500 signatures.
Executive head of the school, Marianne Bailey, said she understood emotions were running high but the email was sent with the best intentions.
“It is heartbreaking that such a misunderstanding has created such a storm, the school will be actively engaging with all parties, both past and present DGC girls, so that our community can pull together, learn, grow, and move forward in unity.”
“A series of Conversation Circles will be dedicated to providing an additional platform for the ongoing discussion and the existing diversity and exclusivity committee, elected and led by the pupils themselves, will assist in the process,” said Bailey.
Source: Sunday Tribune
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