A South African primary school has been forced to apologise after students were told to create advertising posters for an imaginary slave auction as a “fun activity”.
The Parklands College in South Africa’s legislative capital Cape Town apologised after an outraged mother discovered the assignment which had been sent out to the Grade 7 pupils who are in their final year of primary school (normally aged between 11 and 13).
The assignment, which is titled as a ‘fun activity’, reads: “Advertisements were placed in newspapers to advertise the slave auction that would be taking place.
“You will create an advertisement regarding a slave trade auction that will be taking place on Friday, 24 April 1835. You will have 30 minutes to create the advert and have it posted in the assignment link shared on Google class today.”
The 31-year-old teacher, who has not been named, also promises a ‘Cadbury slab of chocolate’ for the student with the best advertisement, adding again: “This is a fun activity and it will not count for marks. Be creative and have some fun.”
The children were also given two sample adverts for ‘negroes’ for sale.
The school’s principal Sylvia Steyn said the teacher who set the assignment was “young and inexperienced,” adding that the school “regret what has happened”.
She confirmed the assignment was set in April, and said that the chocolate bar had indeed been awarded to the student with the best advert.
Steyn said the teacher involved, who is “horrified” and had not intended “to cause hurt”, would be undergoing training in sensitivity along with all of the independent school’s staff.
The principal described the backlash as “horrendous” but appreciated that it helped them “learn valuable lessons”.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said it could not comment on content in independent schools.
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