Cape Town – Calls for schools to reassess apartheid colonial names and symbols have been revived following a decision by Pinelands High School to redesign its coat of arms and motto.
Education experts and lobby groups have since praised the school and called on others to follow suit, saying little movement has been made to show transformation in schools in this regard.
The school’s original coat of arms, which was designed 69 years ago when the school was established, included three gold circles which represented the family coat of arms of Jan van Riebeeck. That has now changed for a book, a protea, Table Mountain and a sunburst.
The school’s Latin motto Fides, Prudentia, Work, this translates to Faith, Caution, Work – has been changed to Diversity, Eenheid and Ukukhula.
A group of worried former learners and parents approached the school administration in 2017 on the grounds that the ridge was linked to a colonial past.
Principal Dave Campbell said the changes follow a three-year consultation and planning process that involved the school community.
“It was an important change for the school, so it was essential to involve all stakeholders close to the school. Experts have also been cordoned off for input and advice. Surveys were conducted, we held a design competition and a design agency to work on the final concept was hired, ”said Campbell.
He said there was a minority against the idea.
“The school has embarked on a transformational journey over the past 20 years. This has also been accentuated by political change. Our values include compassion, inclusiveness, kindness and are deeply rooted in diversity as she speaks of oneness. Embracing diversity also means that we are open to learning and growth, ”said Campbell.
Taking the necessary steps to change the coat of arms did not erase history, but demonstrated the need to listen to each other, teach them to deal with the past and educate them about social justice, he said. added.
Dr Nadia Kamies, post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria, said racism and segregation were reinforced at all levels of society and in all institutions.
“We must do more than dismantle apartheid legislation in order to achieve a fully integrated society. We must examine our history. Get rid of the symbols that continue to reinforce racist notions of superiority and inferiority. We have changed our Constitution, our coat of arms. What Pinelands High School has done is a microcosm of this same process that must continue. History was not erased. It’s in books and museums and that’s where it needs to be so that we can learn from it. “
Songezo Mazizi of the National Black Crisis Committee (BPNCC) called for more schools to reassess their own colonial symbols.
“This historic decision comes at a time when the presence of colonial symbols in public spaces has angered the majority of South Africans whose ancestors were murdered by people celebrated through these symbols.”
Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said redress was important because the legacies of apartheid made people feel left out even in the school system.
“Many schools across the country have had consultation processes to rename their school.
“Pinelands is not the first to take such measures.”
She said WCED could not force a school to change its name or symbols, as it was entirely the prerogative of SGB.
Pinelands High School badge and motto change hailed by lobby groups
SourcePinelands High School badge and motto change hailed by lobby groups