Press release: Fish Hoek High ‘social justice’ saga: we told you so – IRR

The FSU, a division of the Institute of Race Relations, issued a press release about the Fish Hoek High School debacle over the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion intervention initiated by the Western Cape Education Department to conscientise 800 pupils about their racial biases. It didn't end well and parents were outraged.
Media contact
Sara Gon,
FSU SA Director
083 555 7952
info@freespeech.org.za 

On 4 July 2022 the Free Speech Union of South Africa (FSU SA) addressed a letter to the MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Mr David Maynier, copied to the Shadow Minister of Education for the DA, Mr Baxolile Nodada.

The FSU SA warned about the potentially detrimental effects on social cohesion and free speech of social justice initiatives at schools. The program used to achieve this purpose is referred to as Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

We expressed concern that strictures on free speech were increasingly being experienced in schools where Critical Race Theory and Critical Gender Theory were being inserted into curricula. 

CRT’s premise is that white-on-black racism is the normal state of affairs. As such, anything to do with ‘whiteness’ should be identified and ‘dismantled’. Therefore, schools seeking social justice must teach students to focus on the immutable characteristic of a person’s skin colour only. 

The FSU SA supports schools being proactive in tackling discrimination. Creating school environments free of discrimination and where all members of a school feel a sense of belonging should be a priority.

We stated that ‘the FSU has come to understand that this hyper-racialism is routinely taught to schoolchildren of all ages by external consultants and teachers, and is reflected in recommended readings’.  As a consequence, race relations are bound to suffer and often found do. 

We appealed to the ‘Western Cape Education Department specifically and the Democratic Alliance generally to reconsider any use of DEI to sensitise students. There are more appropriate ways to deal with incidents of racism et al when they occur. Children are remarkably able in managing their socialisation to good effect without the intrusion of well-meaning adults’.

On 12 July we addressed another letter to the WCED, noting, with reference to our original letter, that Fish Hoek High School and Rondebosch Boys’ High School were being subjected to the same DEI processes due to allegations of racism.

Ms Kelly Mauchline, Mr Maynier’s spokesperson, said she would bring our letter to his attention. We heard nothing further.

Then four months later, on 3 November 2022, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) issued a press release alleging that pupils at Fish Hoek High were so traumatised by a ‘diversity course’ on racism and faith, that they had to receive counselling. The press release is summarised below. The nature of the alleged circumstances are not unusual.

About 800 pupils had to attend the session where they were told that ‘only white people can be racist’.

Three officials and six psychologists from the WCED presented this ‘course’. Teachers were not allowed into the session. 

The presenter was Asanda Ngoasheng, a well-known DEI consultant, but she is controversial. Her biography makes no mention of her being a psychologist. The approach used by many DEI consultants is to berate children on the grounds of their “whiteness”, this being assumed to amount to eternal culpability for the sins of previous generations and for which there is no forgiveness.

A pupil who managed to leave the session told a teacher what was happening. The teacher returned with her, but was ordered to leave the hall.

The WCED ordered this intervention because earlier this year, in teaching the setwork, Fiela se Kind, a teacher used a word – we have not managed to clarify with certainty what it was – that resulted in some pupils complaining. As a consequence, the WCED charged her with misconduct. She was found not guilty.

Regarding the subsequent intervention, the principal was unhappy about holding the session so close to exam time, but was given no choice.

It appears that the WCED has adopted a very illiberal approach to dealing with allegations of racism at schools, despite the FSU SA communicating its misgivings.

The FSU SA believes that the processes that the WCED is applying are completely antithetical to the DA’s classically liberal policies.

There are other ways of tackling these issues without ruining the confidence of pupils and dividing them on the grounds of race.

The FSU SA welcomes Mr Maynier’s commitment to a “review” of the WCED’s approach – which is precisely what was recommended in its letters to the department in recent months. Such a review is now a matter of urgency.

Media enquiries:

Sara Gon, Director Tel: 083 555 7952 Email: info@freespeech.org.za;

Caiden Lang, Researcher Tel: 072 239 6145 Email: caiden@irr.org.za

Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za;

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© Free Speech Union SA 2021