'Segregated' classroom photo sparks race row, teacher suspended

North West province

The North West education department has launched an investigation into alleged racism at Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke, departmental spokesperson Freddy Sepeng said on Wednesday.

The education minister for the North West province, Sello Lehare, said the school explained that "the learners were separated according to those who could understand Afrikaans and English", the BBC reported.

A teacher from another school in the town told News24 that racism would never end in the area, especially among white people.

It ignited widespread outrage in a country still grappling with racism, 25 years after white-minority rule ended. Upon opening it, she saw how her child, along with three other black kids, were seated on the furthest corner of the classroom, while 18 of her child's white classmates were all happily seated at the longest table with smiles on their faces.

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"The kids were quite unsettled, you must realise they were five years old on their first day at school, and she grouped them in a way she thought would settle them quickly and comfort them", he said.

"This was meant to be an exciting day for me but it's not". The teacher has since been suspended while the investigation continues.

What happened at the school?

At 9am, they received an update from the children's teacher on how their day was going via the WhatsApp group.

The Afrikaaner children who are greater in number, are seated at a long table, in the center of the shot.

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She claimed the white children did not have the same experience. White people will always see black people as inferior to them.

"If you are not happy here, take your child to another school, nobody is forcing you".

"We are not sure whether is fake or real, if it's real we are condemning it, we say not during this era, we can not really accept it".

The school's governing body chairperson Jozeph du Plessis also released a statement saying the image was not a true reflection of the school ethos and that it was only a reflection of a "single moment in a classroom". "Learners from different backgrounds, including race, religion and language, are not merely accommodated but are fully integrated in all aspects of the school environment". It is hard to fathom how this could be so when one can clearly see that, based on the seating arrangements only, the black kid was purposefully placed away from the other children with her lunchbox while everyone else enjoyed cupcakes.

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