New School Year, New Hairdo

by Merv-Ann Thompson

With a “Big Chop” to traditional hair rules, the Ministry of Education has given students some leeway on the way they choose to wear their hair.


The decision was announced on the August 16th edition of InFocus by Education Minister, Hon. Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, and was confirmed in a photo from the Ministry of Education on social media on Monday.


During his appearance on InFocus Min. Hanley said he sought guidance from students during school visits or casual occasions.


I had the opportunity on many occasions to interact with our students. Whenever I visited the school or had an engagement with them, some would approach me, first and ask me, “When are you going to change the hair policy or when you’re gonna allow us to wear braids?” And I would then engage and say, if that were to happen, what would your expectation be?

And they gave you the idea of the length. None of them ever said to me it should pass their shoulder. They always say it should be shoulder length, no color. I went as far as to ask, as a teacher now, “What do you think will happen or should happen if students try to violate the new policy?” They say, ‘well If you don’t want to give them another chance, you allow them to revert right back to what was there before.’ So that is one of the changes that we will see coming in September.”


According to the new guidelines, traditional haircuts, natural locs, afros, and cornrows are permitted for all students;


Haircut designs are limited to two straight lines measuring no more than 10cm;


Extensions are permitted for female students only, and not beyond shoulder-length.


If afros are worn, they should not cause visual obstructions.


Preschoolers are not permitted to wear hair extensions or rubber bands, and preschoolers to grade 2 students are not allowed to wear beads.


Beads worn by older children should not make contact with their eyes.


Eyebrow markings and eyelash extensions are not permitted.


Dr. Hanley said as the Ministry of Education assesses the new guidelines, follow-ups will be done.


“It’s a work in progress because part of the plan that I saw from the committee is that after a few weeks of implementation, they’re going to go back to the students in terms of a questionnaire, and of course the teachers as well, in terms of finding out if it is in fact working. Are there any other changes that we need to make? Do we need to stop it right away because we realize we said maybe only two design lines [hair etching or hair art] and you realize somebody came to school with a Spider-Man [design], you know? So, I like the flexibility of it.”


For Minister Hanley, parents are most times the ones who insist on not following guidelines. He asked for their cooperation with these new rules.

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