S. Africa schools still segregated

South Africa's Human Rights Commission said last week that "virtual apartheid" persists in South African schools, five years after apartheid ended.

In a study of formerly white and Asian public high schools, the commission also found that "school playgrounds are battlefields between black and white schoolgoers."

"Today, virtual apartheid is alive and well in our schools," said Barney Pityana, chairman of the commission, at a news conference last Thursday.

Despite strides in "mechanical" integration, the study said that the proximity of multiracial students in a building did not automatically produce integration.

A range of 16 to 29 percent of black and mixed-race students had entered 79 formerly all-white or Asian schools visited by the commission. Of the students interviewed, 73 percent were white, 12 percent Asian, 9 percent mixed race and 6 percent black.

Twenty-four to 35 percent of the students said that racial integration had not yet occurred. There was no margin of error identified in the report.

Anecdotal evidence contributed to the commission's conclusions.

"There is a lot of racism between white children and black children," one student said. "White children throw stones at blacks and teachers don't say anything."

The study said that the physical separation of white and black residential areas continues to hamper true equality in education.

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