What is all this noise about skirts and hair?

I have heard a lot of noise concerning the issue of wearing skirts and long hair in schools. If I may remind you, this column is always about education and not fashion.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

I have heard a lot of noise concerning the issue of wearing skirts and long hair in schools. If I may remind you, this column is always about education and not fashion.

A couple of days ago, students of Rwathia Secondary School in Murang’a in Kenya went on strike apparently because the school administration was forcing them to wear new purple skirts that were too long and ugly for their age. Yes, you read it right.

As if to add fuel to fire, the Minister of Education Mutula Kilonzo went on to say that students should not be compelled to dress like nuns. Several media houses reported that he actually said it was okay for students to wear miniskirts, only to fall for the common political line, “I was quoted out of context”. He says he only said they should be allowed to wear something comfortable. End of story!

My take on this issue is a simple one. If a school has a uniform, then students should wear that uniform. If they have issues with the uniform, they can surely find other schools where students wear shorter and fancier uniforms. However if they want to wear miniskirts instead of uniform then I think they should be reminded that they are in school for an education not a display of their legs.

Back home, it was reported in this paper that the City of Kigali together with head teachers and the State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education had come to a decision to ban the practice of school girls treating their hair. The argument given was that this move would make students concentrate more on studies.

Again, schoolchildren ought to know why they are in school first before we can go to the debate of whether they should treat their hair or not. Whether treated hair results in less concentration is not a scientific fact. However, here are some few facts we can chew on.

Students will have all the time in the world to play with their hair and wear all sorts of fashions after school. Treated hair needs maintenance and this takes time and money. Yes, a parent may afford to have their daughter looking good but time lost can never be regained.

More so, when one child has treated hair in school, she definitely becomes a source of envy and where another child would have begged her parent for a new textbook, chances are high that she will be asking for a better hairdo to be like her friend at school.

Some of these hairstyles may make young girls look much older than they really are, something that could aid the phenomenon of sugar daddies. Again, this should never be used as an excuse to abuse girls. A teenage girl with treated hair is more likely to walk into a lodge with an older man or to sit in a bar without raising much suspicion. Girls may also seek Sugar daddies to foot the saloon bills for the maintenance of this hair.  

Like the skirts, students should know why they are in school and if the regulations say no treated hair, it should just be that. Those who feel they cannot live without their treated hair should move to international schools, which I was made to understand, are not affected by this directive.

If I was asked, the education authorities need to concentrate more on the use of mobile phones in schools. I cannot think of anything that negatively affects a primary or secondary school student’s academic concentration more than a mobile phone.

All said and done, students ought to clearly be reminded of why they are in school. Teachers, parents, guardians as well as fellow students, have a role to play. Once a student is clear about why they are in school then it becomes obvious that phones, treated hair and short or skirts are not important at this stage.


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