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South Africa teacher suspended over class ‘split by race’

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Schweizer-Reneke primary school

A teacher at Schweizer-Reneke primary school in South Africa has been suspended “with immediate effect” after a photo emerged of her pupils sitting in racially separate groups.

A black parent told the TimesLive news site that she thought her child’s first day at school in had got off to a good start until she saw the image.

“This was meant to be an exciting day for me, but it’s not,” she said.

Local authorities say they “highly condemn” the incident and have removed the teacher “pending investigation”.

The BBC’s Milton Nkosi in South Africa says Schweizer-Reneke is a conservative rural town with a population of just under 50,000, surrounded by a farming community made up of mainly white Afrikaners.

Sello Lehare, the education minister for the North West province, said the school’s explanation was that “the learners were separated according to those who could understand Afrikaans and English”.

He added: “We are suspending her [the teacher] because we want the investigation to be fair and free”.

Racism is still deeply embedded in South Africa nearly 25 years after white-minority rule ended. Language policy has historically been used to exclude black learners.

What happened at the school?

Parents had dropped their children off on Wednesday morning for their first day of school at Schweizer-Reneke primary school.

Apparently, to reassure parents that all was going well, the class teacher reportedly shared a photograph of the children to the school’s private WhatsApp group.

People then pointed out that the children were sitting separately according to race – the white children at a table in the centre of the room, and the few black children at a table in the corner.

The image began circulating on social media.

When parents then complained to the school, according to TimesLive, they were sent a different picture after the children’s break showing that they had been “moved to different seating spaces to ensure they were not separated according to race”.

What has the response been?
Protesters gathered at the school on Thursday morning, many of whom are supporters of South Africa’s opposition EFF party according to local media.

Some white parents have removed their children from Schweizer-Reneke primary school because they fear for their safety.

Provincial education minister Sello Lehare was dispatched to the school in the small town of Schweizer-Reneke on a fact-finding mission, the BBC’s Milton Nkosi says.

After meeting school staff and education department officials, Mr Lehare confirmed that the form teacher in question had been suspended.

“As the government, we would like to condemn any form of racism, alleged or not, and we deeply regret this unfortunate incident taking place in our country 25 years into democracy,” said a spokesperson for the local government leader, Job Lekgoro.
BBC

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Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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