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The Damaging Effects Of Schools' No-Hair Policy

We still can't understand how hair interferes with learning.

BY Agnes Amondi

Feb 09, 2023, 01:30 PM

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Form one students have been reporting to school to start a new chapter in their lives. Joining high school is one of those surreal experiences you’ll have. There is a lot to look forward to both pleasant and not-so-pleasant. 

Away from the stories you’ll be told - the bullying and how you should behave, particularly if you are a form one, there are some rules that some schools impose that are just archaic. As the students got admitted, some schools mandated that all girls shave their hair completely. 

Videos circulated widely on social media with many stating that the rule is barbaric and colonial. In fact, a few years ago, a petition was started to get the Ministry of Education to reign in on the issue. 

The schools on the other hand argue that maintaining long hair affects student performance. I know, we are all wondering where the correlation actually is. The assumption insinuates that girls with long hair are academic dwarfs and the opposite applies, but we all know that it’s not true.

In this piece, we look at some of the damaging effects of the no-hair policy. 

Where Did This Idea Come From?

Before we delve into that, let’s understand where this idea stems from. Many people argue that it’s been carried over from colonial times when Africans were forced to abandon some of their cultural practices and even forced to rethink their appearance. 

One way of doing that was by having their hair cut as it was deemed to be untidy and unattractive. It is appalling that the education system still goes by these rules and even defends them. 

Let’s now look at the damaging effects of the no-hair policy.  

You Cannot Be Beautiful and Intelligent.

We have constantly been told that hair is a distraction and that for someone to produce optimum results, they have to look like plain Jane. These schools have never provided evidence of any correlation between long hair and poor performance. It is an assumption and one that’s meant to control women’s bodies.

It insinuates that women cannot be both attractive and intelligent. In fact, it reinforces this stereotype that is already so pervasive in our society. Some women are already missing out on opportunities because they are deemed to be too beautiful to think even if they meet and qualify for a role. A good number are thought to charm their way to the top because society has decided that you cannot both be beautiful and knowledgeable. 

Women who aren't as keen on beauty and makeup are almost always considered to be intelligent. We can see where such ideas are developed. 

Beauty Is Damaging.

The argument that students with long hair waste time looking at themselves in the mirror doesn’t hold. Reflect back to when you were in school, a lot of ‘time wasters’ as they are classified had already been eliminated. 

School-going girls are not allowed to wear makeup or wear braided hairstyles or do anything fancy. Even the uniforms are a size or two bigger. Thus, combing out their natural hair cannot take a significant portion of their study time. Neatness doesn’t mean not having hair. It means being presentable from head to toe, with or without hair.

Shaming Women.

The other myth is that students with long hair are a distraction. Well, everyone is different. Some have been endowed with beautiful hair and others have not. Why should the former be penalised? 

Admiration is a trait that will not go away any time soon. What’s wrong with other students complimenting their classmates for having good hair? If someone is not concentrating in class as a result, deal with the student in question. 

These girls will eventually leave high school and go into a world where other women dress to the nines and wear weaves and the latest brands. Instead of sheltering them from this obvious reality, teach them how to handle it. Let them realise that differences exist and learn to cope with them as early as possible. 

Do you wonder why some women dislike other women simply because of their choice of dressing? They have been conditioned to think that certain looks are ok while others are not. 
It’s time that our schools re-evaluate some of the policies they enforce. Are they actually helpful or harmful?

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