School bullying is nothing new. It is not only the children who engage in intimidation and racism tactics, but it is also the teachers who commit the worst atrocities. The Carolina Academic School, situated in Mpumalanga, South Africa, is under the radar and parents are concerned about the conduct toward children. Former President Thabo Mbeki said, “To fight racism‚ the state needed to strengthen its legal capacity and ensure that the school curriculum inculcated “the values of non-racialism and non-sexism.” While slow progress might be happening at several schools around the country, some remain a nightmare for parents as is the case at the Carolina school.
Carolina Academic School is dominantly black and there are approximately 200 white pupils, which average about a third of the total scholars. Reports that children are treated poorly and hit with fists while teachers scream and swear at the pupils. Some teachers remain rude and throw textbooks out of the window when children are found to be annoying. When parents consult with the headmaster, there is never a direct answer but a promise to get back to them once the investigation is done and parents never hear another word.
Recently, some white children were expelled from school, and although there were a few black kids who were caught with drugs, nothing happened. When this issue was raised, the principal said that the school cannot take action against black pupils because they pay school fees and white children do not. Furthermore, when black or Indian children arrive at school late, no punishment is issued, yet when white children arrive late, detention is handed down.
Not long ago, two matric learners dropped out of school because the pupils could not cope with the abuse from teachers, who always told the matrics that they were pathetic and would not achieve any good in life. The learners were told not to set their foot in the classroom.
A matric student at the Carolina Academic School, who was assaulted by a teacher got away with no investigation, and that was after the teacher tried to attack the same pupil twice. When the parents, along with the teacher and principal, discussed the matter, the teacher sought to attack the mother. Once again, the issue was ignored.
Teachers continue to bully the kids at school, and the children remain depressed with suicidal thoughts, yet the situation continues to worsen. There was a pupil who was always attacked by the teachers, and this situation went on for years, the child was even punched until blood was visible and the principal ignored the incident.
Athletic events at the school are a joke and nothing more than a gathering for teachers to drink alcohol with parents. Rugby is a tough game and unfairness prevails in this sport. The first rugby team of the school does not allow all the pupils of the school to engage in matches. Instead, children who have left the school and some young men who work in mines close by are called to participate in games. Inter-school games remain unfair when the school children do not take part and outsiders are brought in to play. Another outcry from children and parents are the exclusion of white pupils from participating in Netball.
Parents have contacted the Gauteng Education Department (GED) and lodged formal complaints. Emails, phone calls, and visits from parents are ignored. The GED has yet to investigate and respond. Moreover, children have threatened to commit suicide. Yet, the question remains–will the authorities take action before an untimely death is announced?
The Carolina area has a lot of poor white families. As a result, some parents remain unemployed and unable to pay school fees. The children suffer and remain at the mercy of teachers, who scornfully remain racist and treat the poor with contempt. It is, indeed, sad that children attending the Carolina Academic School are targets of racism, abuse, and bullying. Children should be able to enjoy school, learn, and participate in sports. Yet, the white children are targets of racism and hatred. Until the principal of the school addresses the social division, the challenge of racism will remain at the forefront for the Carolina Academic School.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
Edited by Leigh Haugh
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