Cape Town school reviews hair policy after controversy, protest

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Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer. (Lindile Mbontsi)
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer. (Lindile Mbontsi)

A Cape Town school is reviewing its hair policy following protests by pupils who said that the current rules are racist.

Western Cape Department of Education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond on Monday confirmed that the department can, and has, requested that Malibu High School in Blue Downs review its Code of Conduct.

Pupils expressed outrage, in August, after they were allegedly ordered to plait their "untidy" hair or face suspension for violating the school's hair policy.

The children also claimed that staff members made derogatory remarks to them about their natural hair.

READ: Afro hairstyle 'comments' spark controversy at Cape Town high school

Hammond said the school caretaker - a governing body appointee - would face a disciplinary hearing regarding the alleged comments.

An investigation into statements made by one of the teachers was also underway.

According to Hammond, the school was currently reviewing its policy.

"Schools may decide on dress codes, including hairstyles, as part of their codes of conduct. The department cannot dictate their policies, as this would be against the SA Schools Act," she explained.

"Schools should review their codes of conduct periodically to ensure that they achieve their purpose in line with the Constitution, while taking into account ongoing discussion on what codes of conduct should require."

Following a social media furore which saw the school being accused of abusing the pupils for having afros and natural hairdos, Education MEC Debbie Schafer said the issue had been taken with some girls for not complying with the hair policy, which required it to be "neat and tied up".

At the time, afro hairstyles had not been an issue and were referred specifically to the school governing body for discussion and review of the policy, she had said.

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