A protest against alleged discrimination of black learners’ hair at a Pretoria girls school has now taken root in Cape Town.
The meisies at Sans Souci Girls’ School in Newlands say their counterparts at Pretoria High School for Girls have given them the courage to also stand up for their rights.
Just like the girls in Pretoria, black learners at the Cape school claim they are often targeted by their teachers for their hairstyles.
They claim they are even banned from speaking in their mother tongue and face detention if they do.
A Grade 11 learner at San Souci says she was forced to cut and straighten her hair.
“I was told my natural hairstyle was exotic and my afro was dirty,” she says.
“I had to cut it and burn my scalp just to get it straight and fit the perfect image of a ‘proper Sans Souci girl’.
The Xhosa girl says she was also punished for speaking her mother tongue.
“I got demerits for speaking my own language outside the school premises and I got into so much trouble that even my parents were called to school,” she says.
“Our culture and tradition at this school is so oppressed and we are forced to forget our roots and adopt the white culture because it pleases them.
“This school is anti-black. They took our language, now it’s our hair. What’s next, our skin colour?
“One of the teachers told us the colour of our skin determines our intellectual abilities,” she adds.
Learners at Pretoria High School for girls protested against what they claim is
discrimination and racism.
At Sans Souci, the code of conduct states braid thickness may not exceed 5mm.
“Exotic hairstyles” are banned, while “hair may not be combed out to create afros or be teased to create a beehive”.
Weaves, extensions and dreadlocks, wigs or twisting are also not allowed.
Yesterday, matric learners at Sans Souci said they were punished after their matric ball, which was held on August 3, for not removing their expensive weaves and fake nails.
On August 10, more than 20 learners were allegedly “kept in isolation”.
“The girls were barred from attending any classes the whole day,” a matriculant tells the Daily Voice.
“This isolation was handed down because the girls had nail extensions and weaves, others had neat plaits and nail polish.
“(We) were given a week but some (couldn’t afford to have it removed).
“This was notified [to us]but the school continued the punishment.”
Another matric learner claims a teacher called them monkeys and said they would “never amount to anything”.
“The teacher told my friend to marry a white man because she won’t amount to anything,” the girl says.
“Teachers would physically check the girls hair if it’s too long to check that it’s not extensions.
“We have been trying to get the school to change the hair policy since 2014.”
On Tuesday after an exam, the learners decided to protest against the hair policy on the school’s courtyard.
“All learners, black and white, are against it and we want it to change,” adds the matriculant.
The protest ended when teachers sent the matrics, who had finished writing a paper, back to class.
Western Cape Education Department’s Paddy Attwell says the school is busy changing its policy.
“Our circuit manager visited the school (yesterday) morning. The school reported that they are in the process of re-writing their code of conduct and have been doing so for some time,” Attwell says.
“The school is consulting all sectors and has nearly
completed the consultation process.
“We are very concerned about any allegations of racism or discrimination, and will investigate.”