Students Petition Education Ministry Ahead of Reopening

  • Education CS George Magoha visiting a school in 2019.
    Education CS George Magoha visiting a school in 2019.
    The Standard
  • An online petition has been launched to the Education Ministry to allow Kenyan students to have different hairstyles as opposed to mandatory shaving.

    The campaign dubbed 'Help Kenyan students to have freedom with their hair' had garnered over 8,800 signatures as of August 18, with parents and students alike supporting the cause.

    The organisers who are targetting 10,000 signatures noted that the motive of the culture was not fully understood as Africans were forced to shave their hair by colonial powers because it was seen as 'dirty', 'unhealthy' and 'untidy'.

    The shaving of the heads was a show of neatness and which was passed on to schools.

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    File image of a congested classroom in Kenya
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    "For generations, passed down from the colonial period, Kenyans and most probably many other African countries have been forced to shave (boys and some girls) and/or style their hair a specific way (mostly girls)," the petition read in part.

    The petitioners argue that shaving the hair was not necessary, advocating for a rule where it is allowed to keep long hair but it is mandatory to keep it neat and whoever is in breach of the stated rule, should then get a penalty to shave their hair.

    "The issue of hair shaving and/or specific styling is deeply irritating, especially knowing that the only reason why such laws are being enforced can easily be contained and solved," they noted.

    The issue of hairstyles came to the limelight in 2019, where a Rastafarian girl was suspended from school for having dreadlocks.

    Following uproar from Kenyans and a legal proceeding, the then-Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, directed that the Olympic High School student be re-admitted.

    CS Amina stated that the girl had a right to education as she referenced to a court ruling that had allowed Muslim students to attend schools with hijabs and scarves since it was their religion’s requirement.

    On the issue of school's reopening, Education CS George Magoha asked parents and stakeholders to brace themselves for changes in the dates for schools reopening, as he detailed that he was unsure whether students would resume studies in January 2021.

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    Education CS George Magoha addresses legislators in Parliament February 2020
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    A section of parents, however issued a demand letter giving CS Magoha until August 18, 2020 to open schools by September 1, 2020.