Le­sufi has to un­tan­gle more braids and Afros

Girls at pri­vate school claim ‘vic­tim­i­sa­tion’ over hair­styles

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TEBOGO MONAMA

IN THE wake of al­le­ga­tions that 11 girls had been thrown off the premises of the Wind­sor House Academy in Kemp­ton Park for wear­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate hair­styles, Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi yes­ter­day vis­ited the school in the Villa Va­len­cia of­fice park.

The girls ap­par­ently came to school in Afros and braids on the first day of the third term on Mon­day.

Dur­ing an in­ter­ven­tion in­volv­ing the 140 pupils, the prin­ci­pal and the de­part­ment, the girls told Le­sufi that the school’s hair pol­icy seemed to change de­pend­ing on the prin­ci­pal’s whims.

A Grade 12 pupil said she wanted to con­cen­trate on the up­com­ing pre­lim­i­nary ex­am­i­na­tions, but she could not do so be­cause of “vic­tim­i­sa­tion” at school.

“The code of con­duct changes when the prin­ci­pal wants. It says that our hair must be neat and it al­ways is. It also says we can­not dye our hair but there are white girls with om­bre and blonde high­lights but they are never re­moved from school,” said the girl, who can­not be named be­cause she is a mi­nor.

A Grade 11 pupil said when they are told to leave the school premises for “bad hair”, they are not al­lowed to call their par­ents.

“It’s not safe. My mom left me in the care of the school and I should be able to call her to come pick me up. I am even de­mo­ti­vated to come to school,” she said.

The owner and prin­ci­pal of the girls’ school, Ma­ri­ette van Heer­den, said she con­sid­ered the is­sue to be a “learn­ing curve”.

Ad­dress­ing the girls, she said: “We have to learn from each other and I am not go­ing to ar­gue with you. School is about run­ning a pro­gramme and get­ting work done. We have a legacy of good hard work which makes us

Pol­icy seemed to change ac­cord­ing to whim

feel proud.”

Le­sufi an­nounced that pre­sent school poli­cies would be sus­pended for three months to al­low the school man­age­ment team and five pupil rep­re­sen­ta­tives to draw up a new one.

“From now on no sin­gle learner will be ex­pelled for her hair,” Le­sufi said, urg­ing the pupils to re­spect the school au­thor­i­ties.

Le­sufi said this was the first time the hair is­sue had been raised in a pri­vate school. Last year, there was an im­broglio at Pre­to­ria High School for Girls when black pupils were not al­lowed to wear Afros. Le­sufi said Wind­sor House would be used as a case study.

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