From the mouth of babes: Dear (GES), my books have nothing to do with my hair


I remember back in my Senior High School days, one of the most embarrassing ways for your crush to see you is having your hair trimmed by your teacher in the funniest way ever. Sometimes the teacher targets the front of your grown hair, middle or the back. Mind you, they are not professional barbers. They just trim your hair with a pair of scissors because you have refused to shave it.

When I was in my final year in Senior High School, I recall my school management called for a Parent Teacher Association meeting (PTA) to discuss our readiness for our final exams. The meeting ended with management instructing parents to take us to barbering shops to shave grown hair or we will not be permitted to write the exams. That instruction, I believe, did not come from the West African Examination Council (WAEC), but from our very own teachers who hated the fact that we have decided to grow our hair because we will be finishing high school soon. What really was the importance of hair to exams?

In Ghanaian Senior High Schools, only few people are fortunate enough to have long hair while in school. The fortunate ones either come with a doctor’s report supporting the fact that they must not shave or cut their long hair as it can lead to serious medical issues. And even with such students, they are not permitted to add hair extensions but just their natural hair. Why can’t we grow our natural hair in Junior and Senior High Schools?

My friends and I shared thoughts on that. Many of them concluded that they think it’s because teachers fear the thought of being disrespected by students if given the chance to braid while in Senior High School. Others suggested that it is the Ghanaian way of ‘disciplined student’. How does this make sense?

I think lack of long natural hair among Ghanaians and the use of artificial wigs are as a results of this act even though people pay no attention to it. Let’s be realistic, if I were left alone to grow out my hair from birth to Senior High School, you can imagine the length of my natural hair.

But for some reasons that we do not know, but accepted by Ghana Education Service (GES), a student must cut or shave their hair while in high school. Why can’t the educational system in Ghana allow students to maintain their natural hair just like Indian, Chinese and white counterparts?  Why do students have to shave their hair so close to their scalp? What is in there for teachers to gain when students shave their hair? Why can’t Ghana Education Service change this?

It is true that in some cases when teachers trim students’ hair, school disciplinary committees tried to punish teachers but why should a student’s natural hair be an issue for debate?

Society has failed students and is yet to realise how traumatising it is for students in Junior and Senior High to shave their hair just because they are black. Some people also believe that allowing students to keep their hair will distract them from studying as they will pay more attention to taking care of their hair than their book. There is no iota of truth in this. I think it is time for Ghana Education Service to change this horrible act, and allow students to have their hair grown out beautifully.

>>>the writer is a student of Journalism at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). Email [email protected]

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