Learners told to shave their heads or leave school


Education department to investigate Pietermaritzburg school

Photo of Sobantu High School
Learners at Sobantu High have been told to shave their heads or miss school. Some are in grade 12. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

More than 40 learners at a Pietermaritzburg high school, some of them writing matric, have been suspended from class until they shave their hair. The Department of Education has promised to investigate.

The learners at Sobantu Secondary school, all male and in grade eight to grade 12, were told to leave the school premises by their teachers yesterday. The grade 12 learners are writing matric prelims.

Several attempts to reach the school by telephone for comment were unsuccessful.

According to learners who spoke to GroundUp, the school has no rules on hair.

One learner who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation said those in matric had been affected the most.

“No one was expecting this drama at the school at the time where we are writing tests. We were shocked when we saw teachers going into classes and telling us to leave the school.

“They said they don’t want any learner with hair or haircuts. They want complete ‘chiskop’. We were told to shave our hair and come back to school with bald heads. They said if we don’t shave our hair we won’t write.“

The student said he and other learners had missed the geography prelim exam.

“The only students who wrote are the girls. The only learners who were affected by this are male learners. There are girls with hair and different hair styles who were not kicked out from the school,” said the student.

Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi condemned the school action.

“We will investigate the matter,” he said.

Another male learner who has been suspended said he did not shave his head because of his religion and that had never been a problem in the past.

“I can’t shave my hair. It’s against my religion. That means I will not write because I won’t shave my hair. We are asking the department to intervene in the matter,” he said.

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

In my school, Isiphosemvelo, on the 6th of November I was told to shave my hair. They told me if I don't, I will not be able to write my tests. They only told me to shave my hair but there are other learners who have done other hairstyles and haircuts.

I am asking the Department to intervene in this situation because I don't know if it is against the school rights.