School agrees to al­low Mus­lim pupil to grow beard


DE­LIB­ER­A­TIONS be­tween the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Ash­ton In­ter­na­tional Col­lege Benoni on whether a Mus­lim pupil could grow his beard has yielded pos­i­tive re­sults.

Dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween the school, the par­ents of the Grade 8 pupil, their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Werk­mans At­tor­neys, and the de­part­ment last week, the school agreed to al­low the pupil to grow his beard in line with his re­li­gious be­liefs.

In Oc­to­ber, the boy’s fa­ther, who will re­main anony­mous to pro­tect the iden­tity of his mi­nor son, la­belled Ash­ton Col­lege “Is­lam­o­pho­bic and racist” after the school al­legedly told him his child should ei­ther shave his beard or leave the school.

At the time, the fa­ther said his son de­cided to fol­low the Hanafi School of Is­lamic Ju­rispru­dence, which obliged males reach­ing pu­berty to grow their beards.

De­spite a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion hav­ing been made by the fa­ther to al­low his son to grow his beard, the school de­clined the re­quest and sup­pos­edly is­sued the ul­ti­ma­tum for him to shave or leave.


The fa­ther had said that al­though he would like to re­solve the im­passe ami­ca­bly, he was pre­pared for a court bat­tle with the school to en­sure his son was not prej­u­diced in fol­low­ing his faith.

The spokesper­son for the De­part­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion, Eli­jah Mh­langa, said the school’s code of con­duct re­quired male learn­ers be clean shaven un­less a con­ces­sion was submitted in which case the school had al­lowed for learn­ers to be closely shaven.

“In terms of the re­li­gious be­liefs and prac­tices of the learner, he is ob­li­gated not to shave his beard and to grow it to a fist-full length. Dur­ing the meet­ing, the of­fi­cials from the de­part­ment em­pha­sised that the Con­sti­tu­tion ap­plied to both pub­lic and in­de­pen­dent schools and that both de­part­ments are com­mit­ted to the pro­tec­tion of the rights of all pupils re­gard­less of the type of school they at­tend.”

Mh­langa said that to re­solve the mat­ter, the school agreed to re­view its ini­tial de­ci­sion of the con­ces­sion ap­pli­ca­tion that was pre­vi­ously submitted on the pupil’s be­half by his par­ents.

“The school has now al­lowed the learner to grow his beard, in line with his re­li­gious con­vic­tions, and to al­low him con­tin­ued at­ten­dance at the school in the 2019 aca­demic year and be­yond.”

The par­ents de­clined to com­ment.

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