Lesufi has to untangle more braids and Afros
Girls at private school claim ‘victimisation’ over hairstyles
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
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.