'We're not troublemakers': Parents demand transformation at Rustenburg school
Cape Town - A concerned group of parents, calling themselves Parents for Change at Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School, say transformation attempts have been met with tremendous resistance and had not been prioritised at the school.
The group, which was formed in August last year following instances which it referred to as “tremendous resistance” to transformation at the Cape Town school, called a press conference on Tuesday to express their concerns after they said their attempts to be heard had not been prioritised.
The media briefing followed the recent resignation of the school's Grade 5 teacher Nozipho Mthembu and the subsequent fall-out over the reasons for her exit.
Group representative Tania Katzschner said: "The dilemma with the transformation attempts in the past has been tremendous resistance. Parents who have led transformation were not seen as partners or as allies. Last year there has been an instance where three parents who were part of the School Governing Body (SGB) resigned at the same moment, so that was a big moment that caused us to get involved. The intention is to get the school listening."
She added that the group's intention was to address the issue of indifferences and work on transformation objectives. "We want to build care, we want to be seen as allies in a school that has got such possibility and opportunity to work on something really amazing. We are concerned about the indifference that we sometimes face, and the communication in the school.
"Our intention is not to fight, we are not troublemakers, we want to work with the community of the school, give people the voice and work on transformation. Our experience has not been taken as a priority at the school," she said.
Mthembu, who had been employed by the school since January, has said that she did not know what the reasons were behind threats to dismiss her, except being told that parents had complained to the school about her performance.
Nuraan Davids of the Parents for Change group, said the issue of Mthembu’s recent exit was symbolic and reflected what they have been saying was wrong at the school, which was not simply about inserting a black teacher into the school, but about creating a climate where black teachers feel a sense of belonging.
“This group’s main focus is not going to be Ms Mthembu. She is a symbol to us right now of what we have been saying is so wrong at the school that it’s not simply about inserting a black teacher into the school, it’s actually about creating a climate where black teachers feel he or she belongs,” said Davids.
“So what happened to Ms Mthembu is that she did not find that belonging. What we do know, and I don’t know the details of what transpired with the legal case that happened since the complaint arose, but what we do know is that there was a parent group passing around messages questioning her qualifications, questioning whether she should be a teacher by virtue of a black skin,” she added.