Let’s give Brackenfell High School the benefit of the doubt.
“Racist” is a strong word.
And it can do lasting damage to the reputation of a school community, the teachers, the SGB, the pupils and even the parents.
Furthermore, the accusation of a matric ball arranged for white learners only in modern-day South Africa is a very serious one.
Especially in the current climate of racial tension in our country.
Cool, calm heads are what’s required if we’re to avoid a repeat of the ugly clashes between the EFF and Brackenfell residents this week.
We need to look at the facts of the matter and find a solution. Quickly.
If you haven’t been following the news this week, here’s a quick run-down of developments:
- A matric party for 77 people was held at a Stellenbosch wine farm on 17 October.
- Parents and pupils who had not been invited to the event went onto social media and accused the school of segregation and excluding students of colour.
- They claimed that only white children and teachers had been invited to the function.
- The school and education department stated that it was a private event that was not organised by the school. And that the two teachers attended in the capacity as guests.
- The EFF decided to hijack the issue, they held a picket outside the school but were chased away by force by parents and Brackenfell residents. In the violent confrontation, one resident was arrested for discharging a firearm.
- Lots of Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel and 300 movie memes did the rounds on social media in celebration of the Brackenfell community’s “victory” over the EFF.
Accurate so far?
Still, there are some holes in this plot.
The Daily Voice did some digging – it’s what we do – we interviewed matriculants and got our hands on the jol plannetjies and other information shared on social media.
Our investigation raised some important questions:
- If the teachers were merely guests, why were they part of the party planning WhatsApp chats?
- If it was not a school event, why was the school’s photography service provider used?
- Why did the service provider share a video of the event on the Hoerskool Brackenfell High YouTube channel – and then later remove it?
You can understand why the excluded pupils and their parents are so upset.
They weren’t part of the private WhatsApp group, the private plans, the private party.
They had to learn about all of this on the school’s public video platform.
Now, many have said “big deal”, “it’s a private party”.
True. There’s nothing legally, ethically or constitutionally wrong with individuals throwing a private party.
But what message does it send out when there are only white schoolkids and teachers at a group event?
That Brackenfell people don’t like socialising with black and coloured people?
To the onderwysers who enjoyed the event, did it not occur to you: “Wag, iets is nie pluis nie. Daar’s dan net wit kinders hier.”
One coloured learner at the school told the Daily Voice: “There are 170 white, 50 coloured and 34 black matriculants. You want to tell me out of all these coloured and black matriculants, the white children did not have a single person they are friends with, or get along with, to invite to the event?”
Maybe it’s the role of teachers and schools in South Africa to teach integration – not segregation.
*Disclaimer: This problem is by no means unique to this school. Other communities and race groups are guilty of the same.*