Racism storm rocks elite Byo school

Petra College Senior in Bulawayo has been rocked by a racism storm after current and former learners at the privately run institution took to social media to share the racist incidents they encountered at the school.  

The learners anonymously posted their alleged personal experiences on racism on Instagram.

CITE reached out to the learners who said the purpose of the posts was to expose the alleged ill-treatment of people of colour and push for reforms.

“The main aim of this is change. We remove all names on Instagram because it is not a manhunt. We also encourage people to speak up if a story has been exaggerated so we remove it. It’s not a war on the school. It’s more of an eye-opener for them,” said the learners. .

The learners accused teachers at the school of inciting racism by using derogatory terms towards black learners and causing divisions among the learners.

“Our contribution to this transformation will emphasise, but is not only limited to matters such as racial discrimination which results in the trauma of black students even post-high school. Racist teachers who advise white students not to associate themselves with black students. The use of derogatory terms by racist teachers when referring to students of colour,” the learners said.

The learners added: “Unfair and evidently harsher punishments for students of colour compared to their white counterparts. The recognition and awarding of students and employees based on race or nepotistic favor. The addressing of God-given natural hair as ugly and unkempt. The introduction of awareness campaigns supported by clear reporting channels for any acts of discrimination and various forms of harassment. A clear policy on discrimination and sexual harassment.”

The learners revealed that there were similar campaigns running at other mixed race private schools in the country where racism “is very much alive”.

“Racism is still very much alive in private schools. It’s just been well masked. We are also working hand in hand with; BlackatChisi, BlackatGirlsCollege, BlackatPeterhouse, sharing resources and trying to get answers from our respective schools,” said the collective.

In a statement, Petra College board of governors, said the school was willing to engage with individuals who felt unfairly mistreated due to their race.

“We take any such allegations very seriously and want to ensure our community that we wish to formally engage with those individuals who feel they have a grievance, not just to resolve the historic and current issues at hand, but to ensure that together we build a better tomorrow for our children,” the statement read.

The board added that the school acknowledges diversity and is working towards uniting learners regardless of their race.  

“We recognise the cultural pressures and expectations that lead to inequality, and that our perceptions as individuals are often flawed. In a spirit of unity, we want to learn from each other and move forward in open understanding that is defined by our Christian beliefs and by our diversity as a community,” the board said.

Our Godly foundations mean that we should celebrate and cherish our diversity, recognising that we are all made in the image of God and seek to build a community that values individuals regardless of nation, colour, tribe, or tongue.

In 2017, learners at Girls College, accused the school head Les Ross of racism and launched an online petition calling for her sacking.

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