Giving children a voice in the media

Racial discrimination in schools is still swept under the carpet

Watchdog Media Monitoring Africa approached pupils in a former Model C school in Johannesburg grappling with issues of racism. The anonymity of the children involved has been maintained to avoid any negative reprisals. The Children’s News Agency is an initiative by the agency that aims to enhance the participation and voices of children in South African media. The project gives children the skills to contribute to national discourse through journalism. 

We are 22 years into South Africa’s democracy, yet the generation called the “born frees” still experience daily struggles with racial discrimination. The picture of diversity, which is often painted among former Model C schools, has been defaced by recent events that shook the country. 

When pupils at Pretoria High School for Girls took a stand to hold a peaceful protest against the policies at their school, they revealed racism at its core and its prevalence in schools. This has been an ongoing matter in many schools where pupils rarely speak out about their experiences and concerns, particularly because of a fear of those in authority. 

The protest at Pretoria Girls has given schools the platform to begin to redress and confront these issues. 

It appears that racial discrimination in schools is a matter that tends to be swept under the carpet and only delved into when racism and anti-racism views are pitted against each other in the media. The uproar about racial discrimination from pupils and their parents experienced in multiple schools and the clear ignorance of others is an indication of this. 

To be clear, it is racist when the rules of a school restrict black students from expressing their identities and this is something that needs to be changed in order for this country to move in a progressive direction. 

More and more incidents in the country show that the youth are taking a stand and realising the amount of power they have in initiating change in South African society. A protest held by young women was enough to raise necessary conversations and actions, which shows how far youth voices can actually reach when they stand together for a common cause. 

South Africans need to engage in conversations about race in constructive ways that aim to move the country forward instead of suppressing these very sensitive and prevalent issues or attempting to deal with them with hatred and intolerance. These conversations need to especially come from the very youth who are faced with difficulties in terms of racial tensions because they are after all, the leaders of tomorrow. 

*This article was published by City Press.

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