Bloemfontein high school re-evaluates hair policy

Bloemfontein - The St Michael's School for Girls in Bloemfontein says it will re-evaluate its hair policy after several parents raised concerns about hair inspections targeting black girls at the school.

This after a picture showing some of the girls fitting swimming caps on their heads, to check the level of their hair's neatness, made the rounds on social media on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, some parents accompanied their daughters to school to raise their concerns.  

A father of a 16-year-old Grade 12 pupil told News24 that he was shocked when he saw the photos.

"I was very angry when I received the photo and saw how the girls were being treated. I also received a call from one of the parents who was also boiling after seeing the photo," said Ike Moroe.

"Black pupils were lined up outside and made to wear those swimming caps, while the white pupils were put aside. Hair forms part of our being and it is who we are," he said.

Two tests

Chairperson of the school governing body Brian Sweetlove said the school would have another look at its hair policy.

He said the school allowed the girls to have dreadlocks, afros and long hair.

"We have two tests - their hair should fit into a basher hat and a swimming cap and if it doesn't fit then they would have to comply," he said.

"After meeting today, we are going to relook the hair policy and see how we can revise it and we will brief parents."

Earlier this week, the Pretoria High School for Girls made headlines after pupils claimed they were not allowed to have hairstyles such as braids, afros and dreadlocks.

However, according to the school's 36-page code of conduct, pupils can wear braids, cornrows or dreadlocks, but only if they are a maximum of 10mm in diameter.

Support for protest

All hair has to be brushed, neatly tied back if long enough, and kept out of the face. No patterned cornrows are allowed. Longer braids have to be tied back.

No decorations or beads are allowed in the hair.

Nowhere does the code specifically forbid an afro hairstyle.

The girls however claimed school rules forbade African hairstyles such as afros, bantu knots, dreadlocks and braids.

They alleged they were not allowed to speak their mother tongue and that a teacher called them monkeys when they were singing and chanting in class.

On Tuesday pupils from schools in Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and reportedly some from city schools Pro Arte, Clapham and DSG protested outside the Pretoria High School for Girls to show support against the alleged racism at the school.

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