New natural hair friendly policy for Parktown High School for Girls

Parktown High School for Girls in Johannesburg has altered its hair policy to allow its learners to attend class with “what they consider to be their natural hair”.

The school made the announcement on Tuesday amidst growing public debate on the hair policies of schools‚ after students at Pretoria High School for Girls protested over their school’s hair rules and alleged incidents of racism by staff members.

In a Facebook post‚ Parktown High School for Girls said that it was taking a proactive approach in dealing with racism.

“In acknowledging that racism is a complex problem‚ the staff has been engaging in workshops‚ facilitated by outsiders‚ about race‚ racism and diversity; the first of which happened last week.

“This is an ongoing process and once we have better equipped the staff at the school to deal with the issues that arise we will have similar‚ facilitated workshops with some of our senior learners who can then facilitate discussions with other learners.

“We are working hard to ensure that there is no subtle or structural racism at Parktown High School for Girls. In light of this‚ we made the decision yesterday to amend our school’s hair policy making it possible for all girls to attend school feeling comfortable with what they consider to be their natural hair.”

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Monday suspended the section of Pretoria High School for Girls’ code of conduct that made reference to hairstyles.

He had said this resolution would be elevated across the province and that the codes of conduct of all schools were under review.

Learners at Pretoria High School for Girls said the school had instructed black pupils to straighten their hair.

One student said that her afro had been described as a dirty bird’s nest.

After Panyaza had announced the school’s commitment to change its hair policy‚ a senior student said learners would submit a memorandum to the school’s governing body (SGB) to ensure they were represented in the policy-changing process.

“If we’re not satisfied with the action they’ve taken we’ll come back and sit in this forum [again] if we have to‚” she said after a meeting with Lesufi and the SGB.

The reaction to Parktown High School for Girls’ hair policy change has been mixed.

Vanessa Makole Unamaca said: “I applaud the school for doing this. I think it’s hard to amend past hurts especially for racism.

Njabulo Mkhize said: “Well done Parktown Girls hope that the workshops will assist greatly in changing the discourse at your school and in the community that you are influencing!”

While Motlatsi Mothetho said: “What are you trying to say by what our children and sister consider [their] natural her?????? Like what the hell. These outsiders facilitating your workshops are clearly not doing a good job right from the word go. So maybe instead of trying to pin the responsibility on some outside‚ please ‘consider’ stepping in those girls’ shoes.”

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