City pupils boy­cott classes over uni­forms

Pretoria News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - MATLHATSI DIBAKWANE

PUPILS at a city school are boy­cotting classes, de­mand­ing to wear skinny pants in­stead of nor­mal cut pants. Hoërskool Pre­to­ria West cam­pus turned into a hive of un­ex­pected ac­tiv­ity as pupils de­manded to be al­lowed to wear tight-fit­ting pants in­stead of the com­mon grey, school uni­form cut.

The pupils, boys and girls, said they de­cided to ex­press their un­hap­pi­ness with the school rule by go­ing on a de­fi­ance cam­paign at the school.

They threat­ened to wear their pre­ferred cut of pants un­til the school au­thor­i­ties re­lented.

They say the usual school uni­form cut is “too big” for them.

“They chase us away and refuse us ac­cess to learn­ing be­cause of our skinny pants.

“They are forc­ing us to dress how they want, yet we also want to have a say in how we look,” one of the pupils said.

“Last week they made some of us take them off and they cut them up; they have no rights (to do so),” said one pupil, with­out ex­plain­ing what al­ter­na­tives those stripped of their pants used to cover up.

On a poster the pupils wrote: “We are go­ing to wear our skinny pants daily un­til they al­low us to.” The school has a rule not to al­low in any pupil not in full school uni­form or in the pre­scribed cut.

To cir­cum­vent the school’s rule of not al­low­ing pupils into the school yard wear­ing any­thing other than the pre­scribed uni­form and cut, many de­cided to wear skinny pants in­side and the nor­mal cuts on top of the tight-fit­ting pants, thus fool­ing the se­cu­rity guards man­ning the school gates.

Once in­side the school premises the plan unfolded. They pre­tended to go along with teach­ers’ in­struc­tions but sud­denly took off the nor­mal-size pants and pulled out posters ex­press­ing the griev­ances they have had from the be­gin­ning of the school year.

They re­fused to go to class and in­stead staged a protest in­side the school premises.

“We will wear the right colours of the uni­form but we see noth­ing wrong with the cut,” said one of the pupils, who asked not to be named.

Pre­to­ria News Week­end spoke to some pupils who ad­mit­ted that the mat­ter had not been tabled with the school gov­ern­ing body un­til now.

Com­ment­ing on the day’s events, Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son Steve Mabona said they con­demned dis­rup­tions at schools. Mabona said the depart­ment would send a team of­fi­cial to the school to look into the mat­ter and whether the pupils had con­tra­vened the school’s dress code.

Au­gust seems to be a favourite month for Pre­to­ria pupils to ex­press their frus­tra­tions with school au­thor­i­ties.

Last year at this time, pupils at Pre­to­ria High School for Girls took to the streets in protest against the school rules after a pupil was ap­par­ently told to straighten her hair.

Ac­cord­ing to the school rule book, which has since been al­tered, all hair had to be brushed, neatly tied back if long enough, and be kept out of the face, ac­cord­ing to the code.

Last month Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi had to in­ter­vene when pupils at Wind­sor House Academy in Kemp­ton Park were kicked out of the school be­cause of their hair­styles.

The pupils were re­in­stated and the rule book sus­pended.

Some pupils said the school’s code of con­duct was con­stantly be­ing changed and that it tar­geted black pupils in par­tic­u­lar, as the rules were most ap­pli­ca­ble to them.

Stu­dents from Pre­to­ria West High School want to wear skinny pants as part of their school uni­forms.

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