Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

'Segregated' classroom photo sparks race row in South Africa

'Segregated' classroom photo sparks race row in South Africa

Sello Lehare, the education minister for the North West province, said the school's explanation was that "the learners were separated according to those who could understand Afrikaans and English".

The viral picture that led South Africans to label Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke racist, merely captured a moment and was not a true reflection of the school ethos, the school's governing body said on Thursday.

On the other side of the school, parents of white children broke a fence and removed their children, with some of the adults armed with firearms.

A photo that an elementary school teacher in South Africa took of her classroom to soothe parents nervous about their children's first day of school instead generated shock and outrage after it showed four black children sitting at a small table in a corner, separate from the white children seated at a larger table.

Apparently to reassure parents that all was going well, the class teacher reportedly shared a photograph of the children to the school's private WhatsApp group.

In the other pictures, children of different races can be seen interacting with different pupils in different seats. One of the kids mothers', during an interview with Open News South Africa, recalled how excited she was to drop off her child at the Grade R class, where all the kids were lined up outside, ready to start the day.

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Social media users said the picture evoked memories of the apartheid system that promoted racial segregation and oppression in South Africa.

"Rather what becomes painful is that there are black people who still insist that racism has ended and who think that blacks and whites can have peaceful relations that do not have undertones of racism", he wrote on his Facebook page.

The school apologised and de-segregated classes.

This was not the first time children have been subjected to racism in the country's schools.

But he said the blame must lie with the Government, which had 'neglected public and rural schools'.

The school hasn't responded to requests for comment.

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