“We can’t find good black teachers.” I have heard that lament so often among middle-class schools — white, Indian and coloured — that the patronising sentiment contained in those six words is no longer as jarring.

Good black teachers. Are we to assume therefore that all white teachers are “good”? Of course that is nonsense. I have now taught, supervised and mentored white and black teachers across several provinces, and in other parts of the world, to know that incompetent teachers, like great ones, come in all colours of our much-assailed rainbow nation. As I often ask expensive high schools in the leafy suburbs, if your subject teachers are so good why do so many pupils have extra tutors after school? It is an injustice that so few of the former white schools of SA have black African teachers, and that criticism applies in equal measure to the former Indian and coloured schools. Having a richly diverse teaching staff is important for all kinds of reasons. One, it is important for white and middle-class pupils to experience the presence and authority of black teachers. It undermines racist attitudes and such diverse appointments begin to normalise our understanding of competence as something...

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