Dear Members of Our Lady of Fatima School Community
We have received a document from some of our past pupils entitled; Abolish Racism. The authors of the document include six previous learner Executive Heads, three being past learner Heads of High School.
We sincerely appreciate the manner in which these allegations have been delivered and the mature expression of these grievances by our past pupils and current learners. We strive to develop women of strong character who will courageously take their place in the world after school. We also acknowledge the intent of the document which is to create a better, more diverse and inclusive school for those who come after.
There has been detailed communication with these past pupils. We as a school team have sought to reflect on the content and intent of the document and earnestly listen to the message.
Unfortunately, the reality of the Covid-19 lock down has made it difficult to engage constructively in large groups at school but smaller meetings to address the grievances in the document have begun to take place.
We are cognisant that the journey of transformation unfortunately begins with cultural assimilation. At the outset, those in the minority are silent and a false harmony sustains the process. As the journey progresses, those who have been part of the minority find their voice and a period of disunity and turmoil is experienced. This honest appraisal of the system and the discord this presents are necessary in attaining the final goal of true celebration of diversity. This is the environment we all long for in our school and one which is consistent with the very foundations of the school.
Along this journey, mistakes have been made, failures recorded and some difficult conversation avoided. We have hoped for a school which provides a safe space for freedom of speech on many current issues and we have heard many powerful presentations which have been embraced. We have introduced events on the school calendar which intentionally celebrate our different cultures.
However, we acknowledge that due to systemic and structural racism contained within society and thus in our school, Our Lady of Fatima has silenced some voices, ignored some voices and thus created unhealthy compliance.
Furthermore, we acknowledge and appreciate that our past pupils provided nine constructive and practical solutions for the school which we will implement.
These include the ongoing current attention to our Equity plans and proposals; ongoing cultural diversity awareness and sensitivity training for staff and students; attention to some of the traditions of the school and the formation of a specialised pastoral team to deal with racial incidences in the school.
In conclusion, we welcome the constructive criticism received and as a community are committed to ongoing positive transformation. No learner of our school should feel afraid to speak. Our motto Veritas urges us to seek Truth. We are committed to providing an environment for growth and creating opportunities for all our girls to flourish.
I quote from our mission and vision statement; ‘Catholic schools do not provide education for society as it is, but for society as it should be, as envisioned in Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God. It follows that a Catholic school cannot be anything but an agent of transformation. We are oriented toward what may be, rather than toward what is. This is the great adventure of Catholic education.’
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15: 13.
Mrs D. A. Horsfall – Principal
Sister Dominique Bernon – Dominican Sister
Advocate J. Goldstone – Chairman of the Board