• July 2nd, 2020

Outrage over forced removal of learners’ hair

RUNDU – In the wake of some complaints, the Executive Director in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp, has ordered schools to stop the forceful and unlawful cutting of learners’ hair along with the subjective banishment of learners from school for refusal to cut their hair.

She acted firmly in response to a letter from the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) that complained that learners at certain schools in the two Kavango regions felt their human rights were being violated through the forceful cutting of their hair by some teachers.

Earlier this year, following the resolutions passed at the Nanso 16th National Congress held in December regarding the unwarranted practice of cutting learners’ hair at schools, Nanso secretary for legal affairs Ester Shitana drafted a hair policy and took on the fight against such practice.

 “The 16th Nanso elective congress held in December resolved that the National Executive Committee advocate for the end of the arbitrary banishing of learners from schools because they refuse to cut off their hair,” said Shitana in a letter addressed to Steenkamp.

“It was at this very platform, which is the highest decision-making body of the organisation, that delegates submitted that [certain] schools banish [learners] from school and subject them to public humiliation by shaving a part of their hair in front of their peers,” she continued.

“In preparation of appropriate guidelines to schools, legal opinion has been requested from the Office of the Attorney General; in the interim schools are advised and encouraged to stop this practice until new guidelines are issued,” Steenkamp responded in a letter sent to education directors.
“Attention is drawn to the Constitution, Articles 8 and 10 that this type of action can be construed as discriminatory and a violation of the human rights of learners,” she added.

The student organisation in a letter addressed to the education directorate had asked that the practice be abolished: “We ask that you take immediate action in ensuring that learners don’t continue to be deprived of their basic human right to education whilst waiting for a response from the Office of the Attorney 

“After much deliberation, we are pleased to proclaim that the battle has been won and learners are now free to self-express through their hair. For Nanso this was an issue of addressing the mental health, psychological well-being of learners and ensuring the rights of the Namibian child are not infringed upon,” said Nanso spokesperson Dylan Mukoroli.

“In the war for education without barriers, we will not relent. We remain unshaken in advancing student interests and we say aluta continua, indeed victory is certain,” he added.
Culprit schools mentioned by learners during the congress were Sauyemwa Combined School, Rundu Primary School, Rundu Secondary, Ndama Combined, Matumbo Ribebe Secondary School, Leevi Hakusembe Secondary, to name but a few.

The student representatives at the congress however also mentioned that some schools do not subject their learners to the rule of cutting hair like Noordgrens Primary and Secondary schools and Romanus Kamunoko Secondary School.
– jmuyamba@nepc.com.na


John Muyamba
2020-03-20 08:48:57 | 3 months ago

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