Sans Souci welcomes new principal

Ruschda OShea is the new principal of Sans Souci Girls High School

Sans Souci Girls’ High School, rocked by a 2016 race row, has welcomed its first principal of colour, Ruschda O’Shea.

In September 2016, the school was thrust into the headlines when pupils protested over its code of conduct, which they claimed was racist.

A number of black pupils said the school rules did not accommodate their natural hair and they were not allowed to speak their home language if it wasn’t English.

The school’s principal, Charmaine Murray, was suspended, and she retired later that year.

Ubaidullah Safi, from the school’s governing body, said the 2016 incident had been a big wake-up call for teachers, parents and pupils.

“For this reason the school governing body has embarked on a process of transformation,” he said.

Shirley Humphreys was appointed acting principal after Ms Murray left.

“It was challenging, because at the time of the protests, we just threw everything out and it was a process of putting things back into place in the right way and the right path,” said Ms Humphreys.

Matric pupil Khanya Yabo said pupils wanted a school that promoted democracy, transparency and change.

“I would like us to give our new principal a chance. We don’t know her; we would like to know her. I want us to open up our arms and give her a warm welcome and give her a chance.”

Ms O’Shea started out as a teacher at the Ikamvalethu Finishing school, in Langa, where she worked from 1995 to 1998. She was head of department at Fezeke High School, in Gugulethu; deputy principal of Crystal Secondary School, in Hanover Park, and she was appointed principal at Tafelsig High in Mitchell’s Plain in 2010, where the matric pass rate climbed from 53% that year to 93% in 2016.

She said she wanted Sans Souci to learn from past mistakes and build a new school.

“I am a firm believer in giving value for money because parents are making huge sacrifices in investing in their daughters’ education, so we need to give them a good return on that investment, and how we do that is to ensure that there is a 100% pass rate from grades 8 to 12,” she said.