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Education Department responds to the Heritage Day saga at a local school

Daniel Klopper was one of many learners that were allegedly barred from school because of what he wore when the school celebrated Heritage Day. Photo: Siso Naile.

 

Following the Heritage Day mayhem at Ridgevale Primary School which has angered a number of parents, the Gauteng Department of Education has urged parents to come forward and report the matter to its district office.

Parents were left fuming on 26 September after the school allegedly barred the learners from learning and participating in cultural activities because of their dress code.

The enraged parents told Northsider that they were told by the school to fetch their children or bring them school uniform after their ‘Heritage Day outfits’ were deemed inappropriate for the day.

Read the initial article here: Learners barred at school because of ‘cultural’ attire

An unhappy parent Chantel Smith said her son, Daniel Klopper, who was among the victimised learners, 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.

The disgusted parents went on to accuse the school of discrimination and making a mockery of the children after some learners were teased by their peers.

Steve Mabona, the spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Education, said the department has no records of racism allegations levelled against the school. However, requested parents or anyone with tangible evidence of the allegations to come forward and report the matter to the district office for necessary investigation thereof.

He added, “It must be noted that we always act swiftly to deal with reported allegations and if found to be true, we’ll not hesitate to take action.”

In response to dress code issue, Mabona explained that the heritage day dress code and activities are non-curricular activities and this falls within the prerogative of the School Governing Body (SGB).

“Parents always enter into an agreement with the SGB during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on how to celebrate heritage day activities,” Mabona further explained.

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.

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.

Mabona firmly stated that the department remains committed to creating school environments that are free from any form of racism and discrimination.

Social media users also shared their opinions after Northsider raised the question of how you as a parent would dress up your child for Heritage Day in school.

Also Read: Passion for politics and students

Rhona Crawford commented: “This [school] is looking for trouble. There are genuinely families who are culture-less, my own as well. I’m not going to tell my kids to lie and dress in something they are not.”

Marcia VdWalt Smith said, “Dressing our kids up in any typical African traditional wear is as insulting as forcing a child from a Zulu culture to dress in a Ndebele outfit surely? If schools are going to damage the spirit of heritage day then it should not be celebrated!”

Melissa Doller Quinn said, “As a white English family we don’t have a specific culture. We don’t eat specific food. We don’t have a specific dress code. I always tell my daughter to just wear her SA Rugby shirt, but we don’t even watch rugby. Anyway. People need to learn to accept others for who and what they are.”

“My boy wore jeans and a rugby shirt. His school had no problem with it,” Lee Reyneke said.

Ansie Naude also commented, “If it was me I will take this to the Human Rights Commission.”

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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Siso Naile
Journalist

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