Private schools in racism storm
By Tendai Kamhungira and
Students and former students who attended private schools have created social media pages, where they narrate ordeals of unequal treatment compared to their white counterparts.
The pages emerged soon after the killing of a black United States national, George Floyd, by a white policeman, sparking outrage and worldwide protests.
The campaigns, hashtagged #Blackat, and mentioning the schools, also carry the Black Lives Matter symbol.
The Blacks Lives Matter is a movement which advocates for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality against African-American people.
The government yesterday said no formal reports had been made with authorities over the issue.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema yesterday said that he was not aware of the social media campaign or the alleged racism claims.
“I haven’t seen anything, I haven’t received any complaints,” Mathema said in a terse response to the Daily News.
However, some of the schools have dismissed the allegations as unfounded. In a statement in response to the social media campaign, Lomagundi College said it treated its students and staff equally, whether black or white.
“It appears that we, along with other schools, have been targeted by an individual/group who is bent on wanting to cause division and hostility.
“We are a multi-racial school with a mixed board, staff and group of pupils. We strive to live in harmony with each other while also making use of the opportunity to learn from each other.
“The choice of posting public, anonymous and derogatory messages against individuals is totally inappropriate and does nothing to promote our college and our values, which we work so hard to develop and maintain. In fact, it does the opposite. I therefore ask that all such messages be stopped immediately,” the school said.
The learners accused teachers at private schools of fanning racism by using derogatory words against black students and barring them from taking on some sporting activities or going to certain places on the schools’ premises.
“I eventually left because of the racism that I and my parents endured. I was pulled out of class and told to pack my things because my school fees had not been paid.
“An hour later, my mom came to the school only to realise that my fees had been paid in full and there were white parents at the office actually asking for payment plans and more time to complete paying fees for their kids and yet, alas, their kids were still in class learning and here I was, fees paid in full but out of class.
“It was very embarrassing and we didn’t get an apology,” a former student wrote on social media.
Another Bulawayo school, Petra College, said it was willing to engage individuals who felt they were mistreated because of their skin colour.
“We take such allegations very seriously and want to assure our community that we wish to formally engage with those individuals who feel they have a grievance, not just to resolve the historic and current issues at hand, but to ensure that together we build a better tomorrow for our children.
“We recognise the cultural pressures and expectations that lead to inequality, and that our perceptions as individuals are often flawed. In a spirit of unity, we want to learn from each other and move forward in open understanding that is defined by our Christian beliefs and by our diversity as a community,” the school’s board of governors said in a statement.
Another former student at a private school also spoke of discrimination and mistreatment.
“So basically, during exam period Lower Six and Upper Six are allowed to swim without supervision. So, my friends and I saw some white girls swimming and we decided to also go for a swim but by the time we got there, they were done.
“So, we got into the pool for less than two minutes before a … staff member asked us to get out because there was no person in the swimming team (basically a white person).
“The story then went to our house mistress and we were punished. We told her that all the white girls that were in the pool before us were also not in the swimming team but she brushed this off, saying she didn’t see them in the pool (but she also never saw us in the pool). Basically, it came across as white people can swim independently but black people need white people to go to the swimming pool,” one of the alleged former students said.