The blog before the book
In August 2016 black girls at Pretoria Girls' High School spoke up. They spoke of hair rules and the (in)visible acts of discrimination that had worn them down. They spoke of not being seen and for a very long time, of not belonging.
Their voices quickly spread across South Africa. While inclusion and belonging impact on young people in all types of schools, it has been in the former Model-C and private schools where these issues have been brought closer to the surface. It is in these schools where children of colour find themselves having to fit into a dominant culture that is white, even if they are in the majority in the school.
Almost a year-and-half later young people of colour are still speaking up. Some are still in school and some, having already left school, are beginning to look back at the education they were given. And they are left feeling cheated because their school really didn't do enough to ensure they experienced the same sense of belonging that many of their white counterparts (present and past) felt.
In 2017 we began to write the book, A School Where I Belong - Creating Transformed and Inclusive South African Schools. In the process of writing we sat down with former learners of Model-C and private schools to talk about their experiences and what they feel their schools could have done better (and should be doing today). They spoke with honesty and courage. Many still feel a deep compassion for their schools and really want their schools to be better than they are today. We sat down with principals and teachers to hear how they are grappling with what it means to truly transform their schools. They spoke, not as educators who have perfect solutions, but as people who are aware that things need to change, who are trying to transform their schools and are reflecting on the process along the way.
In the lead up to the publication of A School Where I Belong, we want to share some of these conversations. We also want to offer some of what we have learnt through these interviews as well as our experience over the last year-and-a-half working with school leaders and teachers around transformation. We also bring insight from the many years that we have been supporting schools in post-apartheid South Africa.
When the book is launched in April 2018, this website will host all of the filmed conversations as well as advice, strategies and suggestions for schools to create places where all feel they belong.
For now, welcome to The Blog Before the Book where we will post videos and reflections each week to continue the conversation we all need to be having.