Gauteng, South Africa’s Panyaza Lesufi ordered the suspension of racist hair policies at Pretoria Girls High school during an investigation. The Member of the Executive Council met with students at the exclusive academy to address what led them to protest.
#StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh emerged on Twitter as girls chanted and embraced their natural hair by sporting afros outside the school. Atlanta Black Star reported students said teachers forced them to relax their tresses. They stated instructors also told them their hair “looks like [a] bird’s nest.”
According to Eyewitness News, Lesufi told the School Governing Body to create a new code of conduct.
“There will be no learner that will be victimized purely because of their hairstyle until the School Governing Body have finalized a new code of conduct that deals specifically with this issue,” the MEC said.
There is also an independent investigation into the teachers who not only made racist claims about pupil’s hair but disrespected African languages.
Students said instructors banned the use of their home languages during school hours.
School rules forbid us from speaking our home languages during school hours. 'No foreign languages' it read. #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh
— Yelwa (@_Yelwa) August 28, 2016
In a Facebook statement about the investigation’s outcomes, Gauteng Department of Education said, “The mocking of African learners’ usage of their mother tongue must stop.”
Instead, it encourages the “diverse use of languages – especially African languages” for all students. That includes white pupils.
It also detailed more issues students shared with Lesufi regarding racism.
“The learners feel that educators use abusive and demeaning language when they address them regarding their hairstyles,” it said. “For instance, some educators tell them they look like monkeys.”
Racial abuse also stems from white classmates. In addition to using racial slurs like kaffir, a “white learner told a Black learner she does not need a pencil but should rather use her finger since it was black enough.”
Regarding the overwhelming police response to the protests, the department considered it “heavy-handed.”
Pending the investigation, the statement advises the SGB to give an “unqualified apology” for the events. And hostilities among students and staff are ordered to stop.
The GDE will provide counseling to students for racist statements directed towards them.