Former white-only schools need to get up to speed

At Pretoria Girls High School and many other schools around South Africa, rules regarding hair, particularly for female learners, is being hotly debated. This after protest action by pupils at Pretoria Girls' High school put the issue into the spotlight this week.

Professor Nomalanga Mkhize, a lecturer in the Rhodes University History Department, joins Stephen Grootes to discuss what 'norms' actually mean.

Professor Mkhize says the debate shows that it takes a long time for certain segments of South African society to change and transform.

The issue here is about these prestigious former white-only schools getting up to speed with the fact that the country is no longer in 1800 when these schools were established.

Professor Nomalnaga Mkhize, History Department, Rhodes University

She says there are layers of rules and regulations which demonstrate that the schools really are trying to "retain archaic ways of understanding how to build commonality among pupils."

She says aside from the race issues, patriarchal gender issues are also prevalent in the rules.

They don't acknowledge their own past of white racism and exclusion and still retain rules they think are good for kids and good for the school culture.

Professor Nomalnaga Mkhize, History Department, Rhodes University

They do not acknowledge that things have changed and new kinds of people have now been allowed in, she says.

The schools are failing... people have to be responsible for their little sector.

Professor Nomalnaga Mkhize, History Department, Rhodes University

The schools must take responsibility, she says.

Listen to the interview below:


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