The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it will conduct interviews with pupils and other stakeholders at Cornwall Hill College (CHC) in Irene, Pretoria following allegations of institutional racism at the private school.
The SAHRC met with the school’s management on Thursday to discuss issues of transformation after recent protests by pupils and parents over claims of racism and the unfair treatment of black pupils.
In a statement on Friday, the SAHRC said the school agreed in principle to allow the commission to conduct interviews with pupils, staff, management, the board of directors and a sample of parents. This is to assist the school to gain clearer insights into the root causes of parents’ and pupils’ concerns.
“The SAHRC and college management will meet again in due course to discuss the arrangements for these interviews and to ensure there is minimal disruption to the school’s day-to-day activities,” the commission said.
“Once the SAHRC has gained the qualitative data needed, it will then share its recommendations with the school so it can resolve any outstanding issues or concerns.”
CHC has also invited the SAHRC’s input in reviewing its policies, procedures and code of conduct for pupils to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
During its meeting with the college’s leadership, principal Leon Kunneke noted the school was committed to carrying out a participative and transparent transformation process.
“We fully recognise the importance of being open and honest about such a critical issue for our school and the country. We will therefore be drawing on input from a variety of expert partners and consultancies in designing our transformation roadmap.
“We aim to ensure our college remains an educational institution of choice with an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all,” Kunneke said.
On Monday, Cornwall publicly apologised to pupils and parents for the delay in transforming the private prestigious school.
The school confirmed it had begun work on designing a diversity programme which will be rolled out to pupils over the course of the next few months.
Cornwall was also offered access to the SAHRC’s teaching toolkits in order to further enrich this process.
“We value the SAHRC’s assistance, as well as the ongoing input and guidance from the diversity and transformation committee,” said Kunneke.
“We will continue to report back on our progress through official channels so that our immediate stakeholders will be able to see the positive progress that is being made.”