Andrew Kenny: South Africa’s education system is under siege

Andrew Kenny outlines a crisis that South Africa’s education system is facing, which is primarily affecting the few remaining successful private and partially parent-funded schools. Despite these schools consistently producing superior academic outcomes for black children, they are under attack from Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity (DIE) activists. These activists, profiting from stirring racial tensions, target these institutions with accusations of systemic racism. The impact is demoralising white teachers, causing resignations, and undermining quality education. As the nation’s skills shortage worsens and unemployment rises, these attacks threaten South Africa’s future prospects.

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Making a fortune destroying our education

By Andrew Kenny*

South African education is under attack. The attack is against our few remaining good schools, not against the majority of bad schools. Most South African schools have failed horribly, delivering just about the worst literacy rates on Earth and the worst results in maths and science. These are the schools that the vast majority of our children, black and poor, attend. These are the state schools falling under the ANC government. They are the schools that meet the ANC’s Employment Equity target, with 92% of the teachers being black (to match the national demographics). These schools are not under attack.

The only schools that are under attack are the few successful private schools and Model-C schools (schools partly funded by parents). These are the schools that produce by far the best educational outcomes for black children. These are the schools to which all the ANC government ministers, and all of the Communist Party and EFF leaders send their children. These schools have mainly white teachers, appointed on merit. These schools are now under siege from Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity (DIE) activists, who are becoming very rich by stirring up racial animosity, by telling white children that their parents are possessed by the demons of systematic white racism and by telling black children they are helpless victims of white racism and must spend their schooldays sniffing out white racists rather than studying hard. The DIE activists exploit false accusations of racism.

White teachers are becoming demoralised and are resigning, some to leave teaching altogether. I believe that at St Mary’s DSG in Pretoria, all six teachers in the maths department resigned after a DIE attack. St Mary’s then established two high level positions for “Transformation and Diversity” but denied this was to compensate for the loss of the maths teachers. The schools under assault include Bishops, Durban Girls’ College, Herschel, Paarl Gymnasium. Rondebosch High, Rustenberg Girls’ High, SACS, Springfield Convent, St Mary’s DSG, Westerford, Wynberg High, Fish Hoek High, and many others. The attacks seem to be getting worse. A confusing incident this week at the Crowthorne Christian Academy in Midrand seems part of the trend.

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Outside observer

I am an outside observer of this miserable matter. I did teach maths and science for five years in high schools in South Africa and England but that was long ago; my teaching ended in England in 1976 (when I left to become a labourer in a brickyard, which was better paid and less demanding). I have friends who have taught recently in South Africa. Above all, I am learning from author Richard Wilkinson, who is doing wonderful work in opening the eyes of South African parents to the rot spreading through our best schools. I am also in correspondence with an academic whose wife, a teacher, and daughter, a pupil, have both suffered under DIE attack at what was once a fine girls’ school in Pretoria, which had treated everybody, black and white, in exactly the same way. (Maybe that was their sin.) I am aware of my ignorance but am trying to keep in touch with the latest developments in what Wilkinson calls school capture.

Here is the strange progression. Members of the black elite (ANC ministers, EFF leaders, Communist officials, black businessmen and women, whatever) choose schools for their children. They always choose schools with mainly white teachers. They hate the idea of black teachers for their children. They are obviously determined that their children should be exposed to European culture not African culture, with the English language and so on. Once their children are established in these schools, they start accusing the schools of white racism and not respecting their African culture. It seems that some of them program their children, especially if they are girls, to hunt for white racism, and to invent it if they can’t find it.

Some black children seem to feel their schooling has not been fulfilled unless they become the victim of white racism. (I emphasise some, since surveys of black children at white schools find most are quite happy there and say they experience no racism.) When racial incidents happen, or are said to happen, the schools panic. The DIE activists, who can sniff profits from racism as a shark can sniff blood in the sea, come rushing in.

They include Lovelyn Nwadeyi of L&N Advisors, Asanda Ngoasheng, and Terry Oakley-Smith of Diversi-T. The schools are persuaded to pay a fortune for DIE “workshops” (Nwadeyi charges R70 000 for one workshop), where the white staff and pupils are required to hang their heads in shame while they are told how are sinful they are, even if they are too stupid to realise it. They are pounded with Critical Race Theory (CRT), which is racist nonsense dreamt up by rich American activists. In fact, almost all of the racist rubbish spouted by our DIE professionals comes from America. It includes Black Lives Matter, which believes black lives don’t matter at all unless a white person causes their suffering, and White Fragility, which was dreamt up by a rich, white American racist called Robin DiAngelo, who recently visited Cape Town, flying business class and staying at the Vineyard Hotel.

Our best schools are under siege from complaints about white racism, usually false, never serious and often by anonymous complainants. Sometimes the schools have asked law firms to investigate the complaints. The investigations always produce of big pile of nothing; the reported white racism is never found. But the schools are still scared. They still cower before the DIE race witch-hunters. In Politicsweb, 1 March 2022, Professor John van den Berg wrote a chilling article, “How to ruin a school”, on the fall of St Mary’s DSG. (My first paragraph uses his information.) His wife taught there and his daughter learnt there; both were bullied and driven out by the DIE mob. St Mary’s wrote a reply, “This is our side of the story”, on 2 March 2022. It is revealing; it is a lengthy exercise in waffly handwringing. I strongly suggest readers read both, especially if they are choosing schools for their daughters.

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Deeper question

There is a much deeper question of racial psychology behind all this. The vast majority of black people, here and abroad, have no interest in this nonsense. This includes the majority of black girls at white schools. It is only a tiny but very powerful, black elite that does. (And of course their elitist white counterparts.) This black elite seems determined to be inferior. No matter how rich the black elite is, no matter how much they control the South African state, they are determined to pose as inferior victims of white oppression. They are not interested in improving the lives of poor black people. They are only interested in being victims of racism. It is a terrible, defeatist psychology and one that explains better than anything else why black African people in the world have fared so much worse than Asian people, who never seek victimhood.

A relevant example is the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. While I was doing a bit of digging about farm murders I came across some interesting quotations from him. On 26 September 2018, in the USA, in response to reports on farm murders in South Africa, Ramaphosa told Bloomberg: “And whoever gave him that information was completely wrong. There are no killings of farmers or white farmers in South Africa.” On 2 November 2021, in parliament, responding to a questioner on farm murders, Ramaphosa said: “What did he do when the apartheid regime was slaughtering our people? That is the question I would ask, because as I check he is white and being white means that he is one of those who supported the apartheid regime”. So our president believed there were no farm murders.

He also believed that all white people, which includes Braam Fisher, Helen Suzman, Albie Sachs, Ruth First, Helen Joseph, John Kane-Berman, Nadine Gordimer and the white Anglo-American executives who made him very rich, were all supporters of apartheid. How odd then that he sent his own children to Roedean and St Stithians, schools with mainly white teachers! There were many, many schools with black teachers available to him.

This week there was a huge row over an incident at Crowthorne Christian Academy. The newspapers told us that a black female pupil had been violently pushed by a white adult and hurled out of the classroom because her hair was in dreadlocks. There was an accompanying video but we were warned that it might be too shocking for sensitive readers. I watched it. Then thinking I must have missed something, I watched it again. I did so several times. I saw no assault by the white man (who I think was Andries Booysen, husband of the principal, Tanya Booysen). I only saw a very aggressive black parent, the mother of the girl in question, shouting and cursing at Booysen who stood in silence most of the time with his hands in his pockets. She also swore at Mrs Booysen, calling her a “fucking racist” and a “racist bitch”. Outside an adult black male cursed Mrs Booysen, who listened in silence. Maybe Mr Booysen had perpetrated a violent racist attack on the black girl before the video began but it was not shown.

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Clear code

The school has a very clear code on the “conduct of hair”. Any parent considering sending her child to the school is free to read the code. It states: “All children’s hair must be clean and neat. Only natural hair is allowed. Only plain haircuts are permitted. No fashion clippings or shaves are allowed. No hair extensions are permitted. No bleaching / colouring / highlights, etc. allowed. Girl’s hair must be kept out of the eyes, once it reaches collar length, it must be tied up. Girls may tie up their hair in ponytails, a neat bun or neatly braided hair.” Parents who do not like this code are free not to send their children to the school.

My girlfriend informs me that at the convent she attended in Johannesburg as a schoolgirl in the 1970s the rules on hair were the same. Anyway, there was an uproar over Crowthorne Academy from people overjoyed to find an instance of white racism, and the school, which is said to have been operating illegally, has been shut down. The EFF came rushing in to join the condemnation of white racism. Its EFF Gauteng provincial chairperson, Nkululeko Dunga, condemned the school and its policy, which institutionalised racism “by raising white people’s genotypic and phenotypic characteristics as the standard for what is natural and those of African people as unnatural”. I know I’m sounding like a stuck record but I want to ask Dunga, “Then why does your leader send his children to schools with white teachers? Why does he not send them to schools with ‘African” teachers?”

I am incompetent on the subject of women’s hair and unable to say whether the girl did comply with Crowthorne’s hair rules. I don’t know enough about the Crowthorne incident to pass judgement but I have to say that it seems consistent with everything I have written above: the determination of some well-off black parents to send their children to a “white school”, and then to accuse it of racism, and then to pose as victims of white oppression. The DIE assault teams did not move into Crowthorne, probably because the school was too poor for them to make much money out of it.

White racism, real or imagined, is a goldmine. The mass media love it too, working themselves up into a lather of simulated outrage at the tiniest racial crime by whites while ignoring terrible suffering of blacks when whites are not involved. When a young black man had both eyes and both testicles cut out by other black men, or when a four-year-old black girl died in a pit latrine at a black school, the media had nothing to say. But when a white estate agent compared black people to monkeys or a white teacher makes a remark about a black pupil’s hair there is a storm of righteous fury. The big problem with white racism is that there is so little of it to be seen. This explains the frenzy that attends its slightest incidence.

Under threat

Meanwhile our few remaining good schools are under threat. South Africa’s disastrous shortage of skills will get worse. Mass poverty among our poor black population will increase. Our catastrophic unemployment will grow. Any white person with a vocation for teaching would be mad to stay in South Africa. Many of my teacher friends, with just such a calling, now teach in Australia and the UK.

I, myself (without such a vocation) taught O-level maths in England for a few years, with good results. I should not dream of teaching in South Africa now, even if I were young enough. And as our schools are assaulted, bringing down the country’s prospects with them, there is thunderous applause from the racist witch-hunters and fat profits for the DIE crusaders. Richard Wilkinson, who is trying to save our schools, is becoming one of the most needed people in South Africa.

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*Andrew Kenny is a writer, an engineer and a classical liberal.

This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission