The Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke in the North West region of South Africa is under probe by the local education department for alleged racism against its black students.
The probe follows outrage that has been expressed over an image taken in one of the school’s classrooms where white pupils, aged between four and five, are made to sit together at a table and the black pupils at another table in the corner of the room.
The children’s class teacher had shared the image on the school’s WhatsApp group to show parents how the first day back was going.
According to a report by the African News Agency (ANA), spokesperson of North West education department, Freddy Sepeng, disclosed on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 that the school would be investigated.
He said, “We are not sure whether is fake or real. If it is real we are condemning it. We say not during this era. We cannot really accept it.
“Tomorrow (Thursday, January 10) the (member of the executive council) MEC (Sello Lehari) will visit the school at nine o’ clock.”
The image has been widely-criticised as reminiscent of South Africa’s apartheid era and angered parents of the school.
A mother of one of the black pupils in the image alleged that the black kids were made to sit in the corner away from the white pupils.
“They say the school says the children decided to sit that way, which is not true. When I got to the class before school in the morning, all the children’s names were already written on the desks they were supposed to sit at. The labels had been put on their tables and their aprons,” she told TimesLIVE.
Main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has criticised the segregation as ‘unconscionable’.
Federal DA Youth Leader, Luyolo Mphithi, said he’d also visit the school on Thursday to demand answers.
“It is outrageous that a classroom in 2019 can be racially segregated, which only serves to teach young children from day one to see each other as different and separate,” he said.
The National Freedom Party (NFP) has also publicly criticised the incident as ‘barbaric’.
The school has not commented on the incident.