Learners barred at school because of ‘cultural’ attire

Daniel Klopper (10) who was discriminated against at school during a cultural day event for his outfit. His disappointed mom, Chantel Smith, believes that his attire represented the Afrikaner culture. Photo: Siso Naile.


“You have no right whatsoever to dictate to any child what their culture or their ‘cultural’ attire is.” These are the words of a concerned parent who lambasted a primary school in Roodekrans after a group of children were allegedly humiliated during a Heritage Day celebration on 26 September.

The celebration turned ugly for a couple of learners who were reportedly barred from schooling activities because their dress code did not suit the occasion or was not ‘cultural enough’.

The incident took place at Ridgevale Primary School, a government school in the Roodepoort area.

The disgusted and angry parents accused the school of discrimination and making a mockery of the children.

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A very unhappy parent, Chantel Smith, told Northsider that the school phoned her at work requesting her to come and pick up her child, Daniel Klopper (10), whom they accused of not wearing cultural clothes. “They [the school] suggested I fetch him [Daniel] because he did not have adequate clothing for the event. They told me to bring him school uniform and he was not allowed to partake in the day’s activities because of his dress code,” a fuming Smith explained.

Smith added that Daniel wore a collared shirt, denim shorts, long socks and takkies, which she felt was suitable for his ‘culture’. (Daniel’s parents are Afrikaans- and English-speaking South African citizens.)

Smith refused flatly to come and fetch Daniel, even when the school suggested she bring religious clothes. Her response to that suggestion was, “What if we don’t have a religion?”

Daniel, who is in Grade 5, disclosed that he spent most of the day in the school office because of the traditional attire issue. “Kids picked on me because they said I was wearing civvies. I spent seven periods in the office and only came out after second break,” said Daniel.

Daniel’s mother argued that the school was creating a bullying culture for singling out children.

Another disappointed parent, Marice Kahn, said she had to fetch her child after she was contacted by the school as well regarding the cultural attire issue.

“Why should any child be told to leave school or sit in a passage at school and not be taught because they wore clothing that according to you [the school] is not ‘cultural’ enough,” Kahn spoke out.

She continued to lash out at the situation, saying, “Heritage Day is about celebrating the diversity of everyone’s beliefs and traditions, a nation that belongs to all its people, not based on attire at all.”

It was also reported that some children who were not fetched by their parents loitered in the school corridors until the day was over.

The school was approached for comment; however, they declined to respond and refused to provide the Northsider with the contact details of the School Governing Body representative.

Questions have also been sent to the Gauteng Department of Education for comment.

What outfit would your child wear for a Heritage Day programme at school?

Your views will be used as we follow up on the story.


Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at northsider@caxton.co.za  (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister newspaper websites 

Roodepoort Record

Randfontein Herald

Krugersdorp News 

Get It Joburg West Magazine

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