The Pretoria Girls High held a press conference on the 22 September 2016 addressing the issue on how black students should wear their natural hair according to the schools code of conduct regarding the protests that has been taking place outside of the school.
Pretoria Girls High has been getting a lot of media attention with each social media post containing the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh which has been going viral on various social platforms. This hashtag has helped bring awareness on what is happening at the high school for girls. The young girls has been getting support from other students in other schools, parents, teachers and celebrities, nationally and internationally.
Pretoria Girls High was founded in 1902 as a multi-racial school, but now has the reputation of being known as a “white” school and that discrimination against black and coloured students have been taking place at the school. A student came forward during the protest and said: “a teacher took me and placed me in front of a mirror with my peers present and told me to ‘tidy myself up’ referring to the style of my hair which was in braids”. Students are being bullied and discriminated by the teachers in front of their peers.
An unnamed teacher at the school told a pupil that her afro was too high and that it had gone past the ‘limit’ and as this question was put to the school’s representative as to what exactly the limit is regarding the girls’ afro’s, he referred us to the press kit which does not address the question he was avoiding to answer by referring us to the press kit.
The current policy rules includes “no dyeing, bleeching, highlighting, colouring, colour rinsing, relaxing of hair causing a change in colour or shaving of hair any way allowed”.
The school’s representative said that the rules apply to everyone and that if a student black or white has long hair, it should be neatly tied up into a ponytail. However a statement was made that if the students has curly hair and tied up into a ponytail, no matter what their race is are encouraged to ‘relax’ their hair as per the policy states. The representative then further stated that when the parents enrolled their children in the school, it suggests that the parents can afford to regularly buy hair relaxer for their daughters to comply with the rules in the policy and that there’s nothing they can do about it because the decisions and rules are been made by the SGB who represent the parents. When asked how much the general income is of a standard member on the board, they failed to answer and provide reasoning as to why such a rule and decision has been made without considering how much the average income is of the students’ parents/guardians.
The school’s representative said “if your child has frizzy hair, then they should not be at the school”. However they are reviewing the policy and will be making changes where necessary to accommodate each child’s race, ethnicity and identity.