Ever the last few days, there has been outrage on social media after it emerged that some teachers at GS Nyendo School in Rwempasha Sector, Nyagatare District, shaved ‘crosses’ into the hair of some pupils who were deemed not to be neat so that their parents or guardians can shave their hair. The story drew anger among parents and social media users, who accused the teachers of being inhumane and using radical ways to enforce hygiene. The school stood by the decision and maintained that it is the only way to ensure hygiene and that district authorities were aware. Both the Ministry of Education and Rwanda Education Board (REB), said that there are no such instructions for teachers to draw crosses on the pupils’ heads so that their parents can shave them. “But does hair make children deaf? How is hair and learning and academic excellence connected? Educators tell me, how come kids who go to schools which allow students to have different hairstyles are the ones who top the lists of best performing students? When will this mentality end?” tweeted Aissa Cyiza, a journalist on Royal FM. In its response, REB said the requirement is for children to be clean and have the basic knowledge for hygiene, based on their level or grade. “What we encourage is cleanliness because if our goal is academic excellence and improving the quality of education, it cannot be achieved without cleanliness. But actions aimed at humiliating students and depriving them of their dignity are not allowed,” REB responded. Twitter users like @DodoPicard, said that humiliation and deprivation of dignity inflicted on the kids was uncalled for while @LucyMbabazi said, “These are not teachers. They are bitter humans taking it out on our children!” in reference to those who did it. The debate on hair or no hair for school-going pupils has been an ongoing one, but regardless of what opinions people have, most public or government schools, if not all, don’t allow pupils and students to have long or plaited hair for hygiene reasons. Tips on keeping it neat Keeping neat hair for the little ones, especially those in lower classes, can be an uphill task, given how stubborn and playful they can be. As a mother of two school-going girls, I find it pretty hard to keep their hair neat a few days after a weekend visit to the salon. Based on whether your school allows children to have long hair or not, below are some styles to consider for your little ones. Boys For boys, normally it is not that complicated. A trip down to the salon every weekend is enough to keep them neat all the way without so much maintenance. Normally boys know the haircuts they want. If they are big enough to decide, allow them to talk to their barber, whether they want a line at the front or a fading texture by the sides, let them decide what they feel will make them ‘cool’ among fellow boys at school. Keeping long hair for boys for school going pupils, such as dreadlocks, can be exhausting given how messy it can get when they get playful. Don’t be surprised if you find a handful of sand later when they return home. Unless you trust them to keep it neat, otherwise short, trimmed and stylish will do for the little man. Girls Maintaining good looking hair for school-going girls can also be a hard task, especially if they are the stubborn type. While naturally girls will take care of their hair more than boys, it might prove difficult to keep it neat, but their hairstyle will determine how it will go and save you early morning styling when you are in a hurry. For girls with long hair, a ponytail remains the easiest option. After a visit to the salon, it becomes easier to get it together throughout the week and just grab a ponytail and throw on a few hair bands, make them colourful if you wish and they will be out of the door very early. For those whose hair is not long enough for a ponytail, afro puffs are the way to go. Grab two puffs on the sides and tie them with puff holders. Make sure they are not very tight to make the child uncomfortable at school. Cornrows are the most common hairstyle that will give you less work as the little ones go to school. They are low maintenance and will save you a lot of time in the morning. Just make sure that you tell them not to get them dirty, because then you will have to unplait them. Braiding is by far one of the most time saving hairstyles, if the school allows braids. They are equally time saving and can go for a long time, sometimes for a whole term without change. Give it a shot. Braids are less stressing and don’t require a lot of styling. The haircut for girls too remains an option. Some girls prefer having a haircut like their brothers, especially if they feel comfortable with it. Allow them to have one until such a time they feel like they want to keep their hair. Some will want a Mohawk or a little line at the front. Let them have it. Like braids, twists are equally time-saving especially if your little girl has natural hair. A single visit to the salon for twists for their own hair will allow you to not worry about early morning styling.