JOHANNESBURG – Following the recent racism case at St John’s College, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says racist behaviour should be confronted on an going basis and has encouraged pupils to speak out against it in the classroom.

Geography teacher Keith Arlow was forced to resign last week after being found guilty of serious offences, including victimising pupils based on race.

Motshekga was speaking on Monday on the sidelines of a dialogue on how to professionalise teaching in the country.

The Education Minister says that while the St John’s racism case is not unique, she’s proud that pupils are now speaking out against it at schools.

“So it could also the rising consciousness amongst our learners not to allow themselves to be trampled upon without screaming.”

Motshekga says racism, including all other forms of abuse, should be dealt with harshly.

“Femicides, murders of women, so it’s all these danger practices that you can’t treat lightly and just think they will disappear.”

The Basic Education Minister says schools are a reflection of society and that’s why racist behaviour must be confronted on an ongoing basis.


Meanwhile, Motshekga says that pupils should be empowered to speak out against racism and any other forms of abuse in the classroom.

“When the teacher makes those racist remarks, there is no one else except the teacher and the learners. You must also empower your learners.”

She says she is proud that pupils, not only at St John’s College, are standing up for their rights.

The Basic Education Minister says that she’s satisfied with how MEC Panyaza Lesufi handled the case and hopes it will send a strong message that racist behaviour will not be tolerated.


At the same time, professional standards for educators in South Africa have come under the microscope with calls for teacher training to be made more vigorous.

The discussion on teaching was focused around a new report by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE).

The report has highlighted the urgent need to prioritise teacher training in the country.

CDE’s Anne Bernstein said: “South African teachers are generally not being given the necessary skills and tools to be effective teachers.”

While Motshekga agrees there’s still a lot more that needs to be done in order to equip teachers, she says there are a number of programmes that have been put in place.

“South African Democratic Teachers Union, for instance, has its own teacher development centre. SAU has some of the best programmes. All of them, National Teachers Union have got their programme. So there’s lots of work happening.”

Most of the education officials who were present at this dialogue agree that the general lack of accountability in the profession is linked to poor training.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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