Johannesburg pupil booted out of exams because of hairstyle, says mom

A Grade 6 pupil at a Johannesburg school was barred from writing four of his exams because his afro hair was “unevenly” cut, according to his mother. An investigation is under way to ascertain the merits of the complaint.

Farida Moola’s son is enrolled at Glenvista Primary School, south of Johannesburg. She said he was turned away by the school’s head of department (HoD) on Friday because he did not adhere to the school’s code of conduct.

“When I got home on Friday I asked my son how the exams were. He told me he did not write because he was told his hair was not evenly cut. My son has a miniature afro and there is nothing wrong with it,” Moola said.

Moola said the same HoD had stuck chewing gum on her son’s hair last year because she did not approve of the same hairstyle.

“When I spoke to the HoD on WhatsApp, she told me that the school had warned learners that they would not be allowed to write their exams if they didn’t cut their hair. I asked her if she is going to allow my son to write his exams, she did not respond to my message.”

Moola said she went to the school again on Monday to speak to the principal, but her son was still not allowed to write the natural science and geography paper he was supposed to write on the day.

“The principal told me that the learners were warned about their hair and that my son would not be allowed to write again [on Monday]. I asked him why they had allowed him to write other exams if there was an issue with his hair.

“My son is very frustrated that he has not been able to write and that the school is picking on him. His hair is neat. There is nothing wrong with it.

“The school should have contacted me before they took a decision to kick my son out of the exams.”

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department would investigate.

“We can confirm that we are aware of this unfortunate incident, the parent reported the matter to the department and officials were immediately sent to the school to investigate.”

Mabona said the department would ensure the pupil was offered the opportunity to write all the exams he has missed. 

“The department will investigate allegations levelled against the HoD, with recommendations which will determine the way forward,” said Mabona.

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