Pretoria – A private school in Pretoria apologised on Monday for separating students according to race, said Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
“The school embraces and accepts that they’ve made a mistake and they will rectify it,” Lesufi told reporters at the school.
He, parents and the SA Human Rights Commission earlier held a meeting with the school’s management at which it was agreed that transformation was needed.
“What has happened in this school is now history. Integration of learners will happen immediately,” said Lesufi.
Two weeks ago, a group of black parents signed a petition against the school, claiming they were unhappy that their children were in a class with only black children, and white children were being kept together.
At the time, regional manager at Curro Holdings, Andre Pollard, denied that the school was racially segregating its pupils.
“It is not because we would like to segregate the whites, it is just because of friends. Children are able to make friends with children of their culture,” he told the broadcaster.
Lesufi rejected Pollard’s explanation.
“I’ve indicated to the school that there is no justification for the utterances made. They were unfortunate,” he said.
“I hate racism with passion. I’m addicted to non-racialism. I will not allow a Grade R learner to be reminded of apartheid. I will not allow any child to be reminded of where we come from,” he said.
Curro’s COO Andries Greyling said on Monday that plans for integration were under way.
“I want to reiterate that Curro never stood for racial segregation. We will change our practises and we’ll work hard to address the challenges,” he said.
A meeting would be held with parents this week to discuss the integration processes.
“We’ll work with the parents and hear their concerns about classes which they say are not fully integrated,” said Greyling.
Lesufi listed several changes that could be implemented at the school, including the introduction of African languages as a subject.
The school, which currently only has white staff, would also introduce black teachers.
Meanwhile, Lesufi plans to meet all the principals of private schools in the province in two weeks to introduce a transformation charter.
He also wants to review private education in the province.
He would order a review of the system by a single, independent person.
“Every parent can give evidence or can appear,” said Lesufi.
He expected this inquiry to report back by June 16, which is Youth Day, the anniversary of the 1976 protests in Soweto against the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools, and in which scores of children were shot dead.