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Monday, February 11, 2008

South Africa: Mom claims schools discriminated against Sikh son

The provincial Department of Education will investigate allegations by an Indian national that her son was turned away by two Durban schools because of his religion.

Beena Singh, a Sikh, said she applied for her son, Harkrit, to be admitted to Glenwood High School and Durban High School last month.

She said both schools rejected her application on the grounds that her son had long hair and wore a turban, which is mandatory in the Sikh religion.

She subsequently succeeded in getting him admitted to Durban’s Crawford College.

“He has been emotionally scarred by this, but he is very happy at his new school. He is a good cricketer and has been accepted by his peers on the cricket field,” she said.

Ntokozo Maphisa, a provincial Education Department spokesman, said: “This is a serious matter and will be investigated, despite it not being reported to us.

“An official will be sent to the schools to investigate.”

The principals of the schools denied that there had been discrimination against the boy.

Durban High School principal David Magner said: “It is totally incorrect to say that he was denied access because he is a Sikh or that he refused to cut his hair or take off his turban. We never even met the boy.

“The school has a proud record of religious tolerance, and boys of a variety of religions and cultures are happily accommodated.”

He said the school had received a large number of applications and had a substantial waiting list. Preference was given to pupils who lived in the area.

Glenwood High School principal Trevor Kershaw said: “There was never an application filled in as far as we are aware, and therefore the application was never considered on an official level. To intimate that the application was rejected is not true at all.”

Both principals said they viewed the allegations in a serious light. [Link]

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