Prevalence, Causes, Warning Signals and Strategies to Combat Racism in South African Schools: Racism in South African Schools
During the apartheid era racist legislation was a fundamental component of the South African social structure and it played a dominant role in the gross violation of human rights. This study was conducted to explore the prevalence, causes, warning signals and strategies for combating racism in South African schools in order to change the social structure of the past apartheid society and encourage the protection of human rights. Principals and educators were purposively selected from four ex-model C schools in Gauteng. A qualitative research design that was contextual, explorative and descriptive in nature was used. From the results certain things become apparent. Firstly, that racism is still a serious problem in many of our schools. Whilst most of the principals and educators acknowledge that racism is a problem in our schools there is a general tendency of not knowing how to deal with it, largely as a result of fear, ignorance and denial. Secondly, there are multiple reasons for racism to emerge in our schools. In the South African context, the apartheid policy made white superiority and internalized black inferiority a major reason for the prevalence of racism. Thirdly, there are general patterns of warning signals — and off course unique ones as well — that may indicate the intensity of racism. Bullying, fighting, name calling/teasing, stereotyping, segregation, conflict and cultural insensitivity are some of these indicators. Fourthly, there are many strategies that could be adopted to combat racism if there is the determination and the commitment to do so. In the South African context, policies, anti-bias training, unlearning and relearning attitudes and behaviours, the involvement of all stakeholders and the integration of anti-racist practices as a critical component of whole school development is needed to effectively combat racism. Finally, for us to further succeed in eradicating racism we must deal with it at all levels, that is, the personal, interpersonal, structural and cultural. The new democratic government has already made the structural/institutional changes so the challenge is for us to make this a reality by confronting our personal, interpersonal and cultural levels of racism.
Keywords: Causes of Racism, Warning Signals of Racism, Strategies to Combat Racism
Prof. Jace Pillay
Chair: Educational Psychology Department, Department of Educational Sciences, University of Johannesburg