By Thandeka Moyo
Bulawayo pupils including those from schools in Western suburbs have a right to keep long hair as long as they maintain a uniform hair style, an official has said. This comes at a time when some parents have accused education officials of following colonial rules which forced pupils at schools that were reserved for Blacks to keep short hair.
In an interview this week, Bulawayo acting Provincial Education Director Mrs Olicah Kaira said the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has no policy that restricts pupils from keeping long hair.
“They can do one style and the pupils can agree on something that will not be costly to their parents. I have visited some former Group B schools in the townships where pupils are plaiting, hence we cannot say there is any policy that prohibits them from plaiting. I have been searching for policy documents and found none on hair which means pupils are just abiding by rules that certain schools set but there is no policy against such,” said Mrs Kaira.
She said parents who want their children to keep long hair can freely discuss that during school meetings so that children can enjoy their rights.
Mrs Kaira said the new curriculum has brought a lot of diversity that has seen some pupils being taught how to plait hair.
“There is no need to teach Primary school pupils how to plait hair when they cannot keep their own hair. We however cannot advocate for fancy hairstyles when they do not have laptops and enough books,” she said.
Mrs Kaira said the hair issue should be discussed at school development committee meetings so that parents understand that all children have a right to keep long hair.
She said the Ministry was working on aligning some policies governing schools to the Education Act and the Constitution.
“In most schools, long hair is permissible to A- Level classes as a means to motivate the young ones to work hard and aspire to be A-level learners. Parents should therefore understand that we are a free country hence we are free to engage even on such issues,” she said.
“At one point I had to engage the Town Clerk after a parent objected to cutting her daughter’s hair and eventually we agreed that council should also discuss the issue and allow pupils to keep their hair.”
A concerned parent, Ms Wendy Mkhumbuzi from Emganwini suburb said pupils should be free to choose the hair style they want.
“Let’s have all girls plaiting their hair, from ECD A to A-Level because I know schools will not fail to maintain order and uniformity. I think it is wrong to have an ECD pupil in town with long hair while an A-Level pupil in western suburbs cannot keep her hair simply because she learns at a former Group B school,” said Ms Mkhumbuzi.
Another concerned parent Mr Jonathan Siwela said pupils should be treated fairly regardless of the location of their school.
“My daughter goes to Mpumelelo Primary School which has done so well in terms of implementing the new curriculum. However I am deeply concerned that my daughter can model, do mass display but cannot keep her God given hair,” said Mr Siwela.
“I cannot afford to change her to another school but I don’t see the reason why our children should be subjected to colonial practices, they should maintain hair and schools should monitor and be strict on neatness.” The Chronicle