A South African school caused a stir on Monday after they ordered black female students to straighten their hair and not wear ‘afro’ hairstyles which they described as untidy.
Students of the Pretoria High School for Girls who donned afro hairstyles and braids couldn’t take the long-standing rule lightly, so they embarked on a protest to vent their over the weekend.
The enraged students accused the school of racism and politicians quickly weighed in on the row, with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party accusing the school of seeking “to directly suppress blackness in its aesthetics and culture”.
Leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, Mmusi Maimane, tweeted: “My daughter has an Afro… Would she not be allowed at (Pretoria) girls?”
The minister of education department in Gauteng province, Panyaza Lesufi, visited the government-run school for talks with senior staff and students.
“I really want to arrest the situation before it gets out of control,” Lesufi told reporters. An online petition against the school’s alleged policy has gathered more than 10,000 signatures since it was created on Friday.
The petition, titled “Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High”, calls on authorities to ensure that the “school’s code of conduct does not discriminate against black and Muslim girls”.
“We are being discriminated against because of our hair, they want us to relax our hair, they want our hair to look a certain way,” an anonymous student told the PowerFM radio station.
Disagreements over students’ hairstyles have previously erupted in South African schools, with some parents accusing education authorities of racism.
The prestigious school in the capital Pretoria was historically attended by whites only but now admits black children following the end of apartheid in 1994.
It is worthy to note that South Africa is still grappling with racial issues 22 years after the end of white-minority rule.
Black students at the school also alleged on social media that they were not allowed to speak ethnic languages to one other.
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