The matric pupils in the residence of the St. Michael’s School for Girls in Bloemfontein held a silent protest for ten days in the name of the international Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The girls allegedly sat for dinner for ten days simply in the dinning room of the residence without saying a word. Some of them wore masks with the words “Black Lives Matter” printed on them.
Principal Braam van Wyk says it was first in solidarity with BLM and then there were allegations of racism at the school.
He says following this, the school had several meetings and created platforms where points of view could be set and they also brought in an expert from outside.
“Several committees have been set up, consisting of children, parents and teachers, to deal with the issue.”
He says although it has largely blown over, an expert is working on the matter further.
“Of course, it’s not something that can be solved overnight, so it’s something the school is working on all the time.”
According to Van Wyk, it was only the residence that was affected. The learning and teaching process went smoothly throughout.
Ruth Thompson, chairwoman of the school’s governing body, wrote in a letter sent to parents on Thursday that the girls’ solidarity with BLM had “highlighted certain issues related to racism”.
“Some of the concerns that have been aired are about the implementation of the hair policy as well as issues such as school uniforms, language, race and racism, school ethos and residence etiquette as well as a few other issues.”
She says some of these bottlenecks have short-term responses, while others need to be addressed through deeper investigation and a revaluation of some of the school’s traditions.
“We as the governing body have created an opportunity to discuss the issues that were raised at numerous meetings last week. We take it very seriously and want to create purposeful platforms that bring long-term solutions. ”
She says the council hopes to have feedback by August.
The board acknowledges that it needs to reevaluate whether it fits in with its values because the school’s context has changed over the years. The values should not be exchanged, but expanded, she says.
“This year went completely differently than anyone could have predicted or what anyone was prepared for. That is why we have to work harder than ever to make up for lost time in many different areas of our lives. ”