South African School Ordered to Suspend 'Racist' Hair Regulations

Students at Pretoria Girls High in South Africa protest against what they say are racist hair policies at the school.

A South African school that came under scrutiny after being accused of discriminating against black girls and encouraging racist hair policies has been ordered to suspend its hairstyle regulations and reassess its rules, Al-Jazeera reports.

Students at Pretoria Girls High School say that they have been called monkeys by teachers for wearing banned Afros and were forced to straighten their hair, Al-Jazeera reports, prompting protests that started earlier this week. 


"Some educators tell them [the pupils] they look like monkeys, or have nests on their heads," according to the report.

On Tuesday the school was given 21 days to re-evaluate its hairstyle regulations, particularly pertaining to black students' hair.

"Learners feel that they are not allowed to wear black hairstyles, such as Afro. Specifically, the school policy limits the length of the hairstyle," the education ministry said in a statement, according to the site.

The ministry said that the school's "code of conduct … must be reviewed and the clause dealing with hairstyles should be suspended in the meantime."


According to Al-Jazeera, the rules on hairstyles were suspended after talks between senior staff, pupils and Provincial Education Minister Panyaza Lesufi on Monday.

Over the weekend, black students proudly wore their Afros and braids as they protested outside the school.


"We wanted to show that we have had enough of the bigotry and racism that we face at school," one pupil who asked to remain anonymous told Al-Jazeera on Monday.

The Ministry of Education also criticized the school for calling in police and armed security guards to deal with the protesters.


"It was odd. We've never had security at assembly before," the pupil added.

As the protests picked up international attention, the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh started trending.


As Al-Jazeera notes, the school was historically attended by whites but later admitted black students following the end of apartheid in 1994.

Read more Al-Jazeera

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