South African School Ordered to Suspend 'Racist' Hair Regulations

  • South African School Ordered to Suspend 'Racist' Hair Regulations

South African School Ordered to Suspend 'Racist' Hair Regulations

The scrutiny of the clause relating to hair and how it should be worn at school follows a protest by learners from Pretoria High School for Girls where pupils accused the school of being racist for not allowing them to wear certain hairstyles for natural hair.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, tweeted in support of students on Monday: "Schools should not be used as a platform to discourage students from embracing their African identity". So far, more than 4,000 people have signed an online petition, claiming the students have been subjected to racism.

The School's policy specifies that students "should be conservative, neat and in keeping with the school uniform", however, it does not mention anything about afros. It's the only way she wears her hair.

Pretoria Girls High alumnus and former prefect, Lebo Kgothadi, who graduated from the school in 2009 told CNN that she was made to enforce rules as part of her duties as the prefect, that made her feel uncomfortable as a young Black girl herself. Through encouraging the young Black girls to use chemically-based relaxers to straighten their hair, they would be able to contain the savagery it was deemed to portray.

Similar demonstrations were held in the province of Eastern Cape, because hairstyles is just the tip of the iceberg of other problems in schools. Instead of blocking the students, why not address them if the goal is in fact to make actual progress?

In a separate report, the BBC noted that the education minister also criticised the school over student complaints that they had been warned not to speak to each other in their own languages. She was also disciplined for an essay she wrote about the consequences of white oppression and privilege on black women.

The IRR says the consequences of acts of racism, potentially racist behaviour and the consequences of accusations of racism, can be very damaging in the current climate in South Africa.

The Department of Education suspended the school's hair rules while an independent investigation takes place into the allegations. Afrikaans is closely associated with the apartheid regime.