Solidarity will represent Anita Malan, the suspended teacher at Centurion, who questioned one of her pupils’ responses to apartheid.
“Our first consultation showed that there was an injustice to the teacher here,” Dirk Hermann, Head of Solidarity, said on Monday.
Malan, a geography teacher from Southdowns College’s high school in Centurion, was suspended last week pending an inquiry into a comment on apartheid on a gr. 9 pupil’s answer paper.
The learner motivated that a lack of quality education is one of the biggest causes of poverty in South Africa. She argues that black children received less education than their white counterparts during the apartheid era.
Malan wrote in red alongside this answer: “(Apartheid was) about 30 years ago. Would it still have an impact? ”
A Twitter user is known simply as Tshepo posted a photo of the answer paper on Monday, tweeting that the pupil had lost marks on a question about a political issue (apartheid), “because the white teacher has a different opinion ”.
The question in question prompted students to list the reasons for poverty in South Africa and to explain its impact on development, says Simon Riekert, Malan’s legal representative.
“Malan explained that the school encourages critical thinking in that particular subject. The comment has a question mark behind, so it provokes debate, ”he explains.
“The school’s department encourages teachers to stimulate critical thinking and debate when marking papers.”
Magalan Pather, principal of Southdown College’s high school, confirmed the teacher’s suspension earlier.
“The comment on the answer is contrary to our values and beliefs,” Pather responded via email.
Riekert says Malan is particularly unhappy about the correspondence with parents and colleagues at the school, which shows that she has already been convicted.
“The school’s email refers to her ‘improper behavior’ which ‘contradicts our (the school’s) values’.”
Hermann says Solidarity will reveal more details about the incident this week after their legal team consulted Malan.
“We’re going to do our best to bring the truth to victory.”
He says it’s worrying that Twitter has become a bouncy court where people are being tried without trial, or the opportunity to put their side of the case. The union believes the school acted hastily.
“The fact that she was suspended for, as the school puts it, her ‘inappropriate behavior’, shows the school also misjudged the value without hearing the other side of the case. The school can still do the right thing, but it’s not always politically correct.
Anita Malan has a history of integrity. The case is terribly difficult for her, because children are her passion.
Malan has been teaching for almost 38 years, including seven years at South Downs College.
“Anita Malan has a history of integrity. The case is terribly difficult for her, because children are her passion. She has always been a good, loyal teacher with a love for education. She should have been given the benefit of the doubt, ”says Riekert.
Even before Solidarity became involved, Riekert had already declared a dispute with the Commission for Reconciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) regarding the Labor Relations Act on Malan’s “unfair” and “illegal” suspension.
He also says the Twitter entry still violates his client’s good name.
“Although it does not mention her name, it violates her constitutional rights and right to privacy.”
Prof. Elda de Waal, a researcher in the field of public schools at the North-West University (NWU), says a teacher should always leave room for that one student who gives an unpredictable answer.
“You then take the answer and see if it is reasonably logical,” she explains.
De Waal goes on to say that each child has a specific origin and family history, which can influence their answers.