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Gqeberha school allows learners to wear makeup and plait hair

A Nelson Mandela Bay school has taken a step towards inclusivity by allowing girls to wear subtle makeup and boys to plait their hair into neat cornrows.

Westering High has become the first school in the region to relax its dress code.

Principal Stuart Hayward said the policy came into effect about six months ago.

“We felt there was a need because our objective is to convey to the students that we embrace inclusivity,” he said.

According to the school’s code of conduct, boys may wear cornrows, but only if the ends are plaited back into the row and not left “hanging”.

The school policy also allows for girls to wear subtle makeup, which includes mascara, eyeliner and lipstick on civvies days.

Hayward said he meets with his representative council of learners at least once a week, and they brought the suggestions to the school’s attention.

“During such meetings, we bounce ideas off each other and discuss important issues affecting the pupils,” Hayward said.

Provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said by adopting the policy the school showed a forward-thinking approach to gender norms and cultural expressions.

“We applaud the school’s commendable commitment to inclusivity, as evidenced by its recent decision to permit male students to wear cornrows,” Mtima said.

He said the decision not only promotes individuality but also challenges stereotypes.

However, Scrolla.Africa spoke to parents who criticised the school’s move as corrupting their children.

“I don’t agree with this. How can a minor be allowed to put on make-up at school? We must let children be children,” a parent said.

Another parent said: “Children nowadays are being given way too much freedom to make adult decisions. This is not right.”

Last week, claims of an outdated uniform policy that does not accommodate the LGBTQI community emerged during a heated debate at another local school.

Lesbian learners at Lungisa High School in Gqeberha claimed that they were being singled out, harassed and ridiculed for wearing trousers.

In this case, Mtima said the department was planning to train teachers on how to handle matters of gender fluidity.

“As a department, we don’t see boys and girls, but pupils. We want to inculcate that thinking among the teachers,” he said.

Pictured above: A Westering High School male pupil with braided hair.

Image source: Westering High Code of Conduct document