In doing so, the school – located in Pierneef Street, Deerness, in the city – will be heeding a call by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi that apartheid-era school names be changed.
Making the announcement in 2016, Lesufi said any school name or badge that suggested oppression or racial supremacy had to be removed.
He said schools named after apartheid figures, or whose names reflected the race classifications of that time, could apply to have their names changed. That was exactly what “Woeries”, as Hoërskool Hendrik Verwoerd is known, did.
Hendrik Verwoerd, who the school inherits the name from, was regarded as the father of apartheid.
History has it that under Verwoerd’s leadership, opponents to apartheid were repressed, with thousands of people being detained, while others were exiled and scores tortured and killed. He believed white control over South Africa could only continue if the races lived apart.
After Lesufi’s announcement, during a school governing body (SGB) meeting in 2016, the school submitted a declaration of intent to change the name with the Department of Education.
The request was approved with the condition that it adhered to processes and principles set out by the department. “The school and the SGB is 100% committed to the values and goals set out by the Department of Education and have proved over many years that our school is fully committed to serving our community in an integrated and completely non-racial society,” said SGB chairperson Olga Veldsman.
She said the submission process opened on February 19 and everyone with vested interest in the school was invited to participate. This included past and present pupils, teachers, parents and community members.
Veldsman said: “The submission period closed on March 19 and a special meeting was held by the SGB on April 10, where a transparent process was followed in the selection of three suitable names.”
Tonight, SGB members will hold a special annual general parents meeting to vote for the new name.
The preferred name, Veldsman explained, would then be submitted to the department for approval.
Veldsman said this was the second and last special meeting scheduled. They had to cancel the first one, because not enough people to form a quorum attended.
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