Don’t ban learners over neat hairstyles – Steenkamp

Positive discipline, such as taking away advantages, should be used against learners who break school regulations or codes of conduct, the education ministry said.

11 September 2021 | Education

Windhoek ∙ [email protected]

The education ministry is vehemently opposed to corporal punishment, which has been outlawed in Namibian schools for many years. This is in response to reports that a pupil at one of Windhoek's secondary schools was recently subjected to corporal punishment over a hairstyle.

Sanet Steenkamp, the ministry’s executive director, said no teacher, principal or other individual employed in public or private schools has the authority to inflict harm on a pupil for any reason.

“Any staff member who violates school rules is subject to the public service disciplinary procedures,” she said.

She added that no learner should be refused access to education because of their haircut or appearance. Learners must, however, maintain neat hairstyles or appearances and follow all school standards.

Learners safeguarded

Learners are safeguarded under the Education Act, No 16 of 2001, which makes it illegal for anyone employed at a state or private school to use physical punishment on a pupil. According to the Labor Act No. 6 of 1992, such misconduct is a legal and reasonable grounds for action to be taken against the perpetrator.

The learners are also protected, according to Steenkamp, by the Child Care Protection Act 3 of 2015, which compels anyone in charge of a child to respect the child's right to dignity, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Namibian Constitution.

This Act also makes it illegal for anyone to use corporal punishment on a child in a residential childcare facility, a place of care, a shelter, an early childhood development centre, a school - whether public or private - or a child in foster care, a prison, a police cell, or any other form of alternative care as a result of a court order.

If a learner is subjected to such acts, they can file a report with their individual regional education directorate offices or the police.

Positive discipline

Positive discipline, such as taking away advantages or being grounded during recess, should be used against learners who break school regulations or codes of conduct, according to Steenkamp.

She added: "However, any discipline should be calibrated against the infraction".