Letter – School hairstyle, uniforms or a fashion trend?

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This article is based upon an SMS in TheNamibian newspaper, 16 November 2021, about school hairstyles. It read: “To the ministry of education: Pupils should not be stopped from attending school because of their haircuts. Most principals force all pupils to have a particular haircut but the truth is haircut has no any effect on education”. 

It shall be that the author and many others who complain about hairstyle have no understanding of why it is instilled in school – let alone its benefit to the teaching and learning fraternity. Also, it is a gross understatement to say that a hairstyle doesn’t affect education. 

It is, therefore, the aim of this opinion piece to shed light on why hairstyle matters in school, as well as to direct the ministry to support the school – other than stand against them as our executive director also sided with those who protested against the school practice, as quoted in the media in September 2021.

Truth be told, the school principal has to expel hairstyle offenders as they have exhausted all other means to enforce this rule. The ministry warns the principal against doing so in the interests of learning, but there is no other option. Many a time, the hairstyle – just like the uniform – has been stipulated in the school rules, agreed upon by the parents and the directorate as stated by statutes through the regional director. 

The ministry hasn’t established any other legal framework that would protect or guide school principals in regards to hairstyles and uniforms. Therefore, it will be prudent for the ministry to seek a remedy to hairstyle in order to avoid a disaster and prevent any moral decay. fashionThese are the trends that have since seized this nation.  

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The author will try to understand, learn and relearn how uniforms and hairstyles were first documented in England in 1922 by the archbishop. 

It was popularized in the United States around 1900 for private and parochial schools, but it was adopted by public schools in the 1980s. 

Namibia, a developing country, has followed the lead of these great countries. 

Hairstyles and school uniforms can be confused. There are many reasons why this is so. Here are some examples to support this assertion. 

Uniforms have a number of main benefits. They help to reduce economic barriers, build community and reduce bullying. 

They also help in serving as a group emblem and identity – and it helps suppress individuality. 

They encourage learning because they make it easier for students to get ready for school. 

Students will be able to wear any clothing they want, even though they do not come from the same economic background. Some are wealthy, some are poor.

 Imagine a child sitting next to another in fancy clothing, whilst they are wearing torn clothing, especially in a public school, which is a mainstream place, where all are equal. 

The uniform, thus, is a symbol of equalising us all, and putting true meaning to Nelson Mandela’s saying that “Education is the greatest equaliser”. 

Uniforms can be affordable and cheaper for many. Imagine a child from a wealthy family wearing Crocket & Jones shoes and a slipper wearing Crocket & Jones shoes. 

This can divert the learner’s focus in school, as they will spend hours admiring these fancy shoes, instead of studying. 

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Imagine a girl with long braids and one tied with thread. It will distract from learning.  Unkept hairstyles and fashionista hairstyles are a distraction from learning. Additionally, learners will appear messy and unorganized. This will result in a lack of order and discipline in our learners. 

This will disrupt school order and focus on learning, which can adversely affect learning. 

While you may want to think of other cultures, practices, and ways of thinking, don’t forget that private schools can be more strict about hairstyles than our public schools. 

The claim that hairstyle doesn’t affect learning is therefore an understatement. It requires more research. 

Finally, if parents can play their role in parenting and educating their children at their home, schools will not be occupied with unruly behaviour and babysitting children who are not given the opportunity to behave at school by their parents. 

We will also recall the great words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

2021-11-19  Staff Reporter
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