The Congress of SA Students (Cosas) has threatened to forcefully remove “racist schoolteachers” in a fight for transformation in schools.
“Through the Learn Without Fear Retaliation campaign we shall deploy our cadres to forcefully remove such perpetrators without compensation,” said Cosas in statement.
It declared that “the department of education in Gauteng has developed a tendency of moving like tortoises when it comes to resolving” issues of racism and renaming of schools named after apartheid leaders. The student movement said it would therefore forcefully remove racist teachers because Gauteng MEC for Panyaza Lesufi “has been very soft on these culprits”.
In March this year, Lesufi gave schools named after apartheid leaders September as the deadline to change the names of their schools or to suggest alternatives. He said: “… like HF Verwoerd [school], we are coming. They can’t have those kind of names.” To date, no name has changed, and Cosas feels it is now time to take matters into its own hands.
“First and foremost, allow us to clarify that we are demanding that all schools named after perpetrators of apartheid in South Africa must be changed.
“Schools like Odendaal Hoerskool, Pretoria High School for Girls, Hendrik Verwoerd, etc, should be especially named after real heroes of our freedom because this democracy we are enjoying was not for free. This call is informed by the rising complaints of racism in our schools; we strongly believe that this racism is inspired by the names given to them.
“Teachers who teach at such schools tend to think that they are above the law because they teach learners to discriminate against each other, they demoralise learners because they are from a different race.”
The youth movement said it would “occupy” the MEC’s office to force him to implement its demands.
“We are challenging anyone who differs with us to test us and see the results; we are tried and tested. We are going to start by occupying the office of the MEC of Education in Gauteng on Wednesday … if the MEC wont take responsibility of complying to these demands, we will force him to.
“These issues are the same issues he pledged to see happen, and if there is no one willing to take responsibility for transformation of these schools, he should take ownership.”
Lesufi said in a radio interview on Wednesday that names such as that of former prime minister Verwoerd should not be embraced in schools.
But he said changing the names was going to be a prolonged process because many stakeholders were involved, and the department was committed to doing it within the law.
“Schools should embrace our principles on nonracialism and nonsexism. So, we can’t have people who opposed those views glorified outside the gate of our school.”
He said any names with either an “apartheid or colonial connotation” would need to change.