By Ndileka Swakamisa
The parents of a Wynberg Boys’ Junior pupil facing disciplinary action for his haircut have asked to speak to the school’s governing body, the Western Cape Education Department said on Friday.
The parents believe their son’s hair is part of his culture and want to understand why such drastic steps have been taken, said department spokesperson Jessica Shelver.
In photos of the haircut, circulated on social media, the black boy’s hair is cut short on the sides and is a little longer on top.
His parents were handed a letter on Thursday, asking them to ensure the haircut was “rectified” before Monday, July 31, failing which disciplinary action would be taken. The boy would not be allowed on the playground during break time as long as his hair was in an “unacceptable state”.
Neither the parents nor the school could be reached for comment.
In September last year, Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer called on the province’s schools to revise their codes of conduct, to ensure they took account of the country’s inclusive society.
“Discipline and authority is required at all schools. However, it is important that there is a healthy balance between school discipline and behaviour, and individual rights,” she said.
Shelver did not respond to questions about if the department believed the pupil had been treated fairly, or if further investigations would be undertaken.
There have been public outcries about hairstyles and race at several schools across South Africa.
In August 2016, pupils at Pretoria High School for Girls protested against the school’s hair policy. They claimed they were subjected to racism and that their blackness was being discouraged.
In June, a 16-year-old Grade 11 boy at a private school in Glenwood, Durban, was given one afternoon to rectify his “exotic” short-sides, long-on-top hairstyle, or told to stay home until it grew out. In July, Windsor House Academy in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, sent a group of girls home for “inappropriate” hairstyles, including braids.