School hair policies are unconstitutional - cultural rights commission

The Commission for the Promotion & Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities has added its voice to the ongoing debates of school hair policies.

Chair of the Commission Thoko Mkwanazi-Xaluva says schools that have strict policies on hair and are also restricting learners from speaking their mother tongue, are in violation of the Constitution.

She advises people to familiarise themselves with the Constitution so that they can be properly informed.

The Constitution guarantees that your culture will be respected and your religion will be respected and that you can speak your language, so its a constitutional imperative when you say children cannot speak their mother tongue

Thoko Mkwanazi-Xaluva, Chair of the Commission

Mkwanazi-Xaluva says schools need to accommodate some cultural practices like shaving of hair when a family member has passed, as a sign of mourning.

And it is not just happening in the cities. She says they've been flooded by complaints from school in rural villages too, where some learners are forced to shave off their hair while their religious beliefs do not allow that.

Even if you have a policy you must ensure there are exemptions to it.

Thoko Mkwanazi-Xaluva, Chair of the Commission

The commission say they are willing to assist schools to develop policies that are appropriate in both urban areas in villages too.

Some schools might not know where the pitfalls are. We are willing to help them and show them the issues to be taken into consideration when drafting policies.

Thoko Mkwanazi-Xaluva, Chair of the Commission

Listen to the full conversation below:

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