St Peter’s College, a Christian private institution a little over 20 years old, entered the education arena determined not just to give children a solid platform from which to achieve greatness, but also a wholesome emotional and mental grounding allowing them to cope with life’s challenges and correctly assimilate a world that often presents conflicting messages. We have always purposed that our students, regardless of any negative external influences, be best equipped to make the right choices; that they always consciously choose to do what is just and noble. Part of this includes an ever-present focus on diversity and inclusion that creates cohesion amongst the students and enables them to have rich and fulfilling personal and professional relationships beyond the school gate.
That one of our students, a Grade 11 boy, should have openly made statements that fly in the face of what we stand for, shocks and intensely distresses us. We do not for one minute excuse his ignorant utterances or suggest they be interpreted for anything but what they were – blatantly racist remarks. We have not ever, cannot and will not ever accept this kind of language and behaviour and have already taken steps to pursue corrective action in accordance with our policies and principles regarding hate speech, bias and unfair discrimination.
Our school is a proud one for many reasons. Perhaps one of the greatest reasons is our successful bringing together of students from different races, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, countries and faiths; even though we are an Anglican institution. We have on our campus students from very different backgrounds and can genuinely state that we have enjoyed great and rewarding success helping the students learn more about and accept each other. In everything, both staff and students remain guided by our core values which we refer to as our Four Rs: Relationships, Respect, Responsibility and Resilience.
The Grade 11 boy in question made racist remarks and used derogatory terminology that is not acceptable anywhere. He failed to uphold the College ethos and without doubt, caused distress and anger with his callous and offensive remarks. His utterances were completely indefensible, and the appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against him. The Disciplinary process has already been initiated, the necessary details and statements are being formulated and the Grade 11 student has been suspended pending a Disciplinary Hearing.
As a school, we unreservedly apologise for his remarks and pledge to intensify our efforts to ensure our students through all five grades are exposed to as much diversity and inclusion learning as possible. Already the structures we have in place solidly support such learning, but we will now amplify our efforts and have the necessary conversations with our students. We will discuss with them not just the incident in question, but also the invaluable role acceptance plays in greater society, and the good stead we stand ourselves in when we embrace ubuntu and understand none of us is superior to the next. Particularly at a time when elsewhere in the world, there is great race-related upheaval, now is the time not just for St Peter’s College but all educational institutions to bring the evil of racism, bias and unfair discrimination to the fore and have the crucial conversations that will help our students think, speak and act with integrity, no matter the situation.
Once again, we unreservedly apologise for the hurt caused by our student’s remarks. We ourselves want to understand how the student could possibly have thought such remarks were at all appropriate. The student should have known better and for reasons we will investigate, chose to behave as though his words were at all acceptable or comic. We will ensure it is fully investigated and come to a resolution that upholds both our own ethos and that of greater society. St Peter’s College under no circumstances tolerates hate speech, racism, bias and/or unfair discrimination. The matter is utterly regrettable and should in no way be perceived as representative of who we are, what we stand for, and the overall caliber of our student body.
Rui Morais and Nathaniel Ramuthaga
Headmaster and Chairperson of the St Peter's College Council