Lesufi suspends Pretoria school’s hair policy – and ‘mini-war on campus’

30 August 2016 - 09:21 By Roxanne Henderson

The section of the Pretoria Girls High School code of conduct that deals with hair has been suspended with immediate effect. And schools in Gauteng with similar rules may face similar action.After meeting with the school's governing body (SGB) on Monday‚ Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that a resolution had been reached and all hostilities at the school will cease.Dread not our afrosThe dress codes of former model C schools should be questioned, say activists, parents and pupils after a spat over hairstyles at a Pretoria school caused a national outcry.“As part of our request to resolve the impasse‚ the element of the code of conduct that deals specifically with hairstyles will be suspended immediately.“There will no learner that will be victimised purely because of their hairstyle until the school governing body has finalised a new code of conduct that deals specifically with these issues‚” he said.This follows the school’s reported instruction to black pupils to straighten their hair‚ leading to protest action by some its learners last week.Lesufi visited the school to address the controversy as more than 4500 people signed a petition calling for his intervention.Until the school's new code of conduct has been workshopped and introduced‚ schooling will proceed without any hostilities: “The mini-war that was on this campus is immediately suspended. Learners will go back to class. Teachers will teach. There will not be any form of protest.”Lesufi said this resolution will be elevated across the province and that the codes of conduct of all schools were under review.Earlier on Monday‚ Lesufi had met with learners who claimed they were being victimised by staff. The MEC is appointing an independent body to investigate the allegations.The committee will have 21 days to report its findings.“None of the learners who reported the prevalence of racial or emotional abuse at this school will be intimidated or be charged‚” he said.The cellphones of learners which were confiscated by staff‚ as they recorded evidence to back the learners' claims‚ will be returned.Lesufi also addressed a number of other race-related issues at the school‚ like the mocking of African languages‚ saying it was time for change.“We are quite aware that the environment here needs serious intervention in terms of race relations‚ cultural understanding and the need to promote social cohesion.”Specialists dealing with the promotion of social cohesion and psychological support will be made available to the school community.Lesufi advised the SGB to apologise for the events that had unfolded at the school.One student said that her afro had been described as a dirty bird's nest.SGB member James Tubb said‚ “It is sad for me to realise our awareness was not where it should have been.”– TMG Digital..

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