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A Malawian High Court Orders Lifting of Government Ban on Dreadlocks in Schools

The order comes after a Rastafarian learner with dreadlocks was barred from being admitted into a Malawian school by the government.

A Malawian High Court in Zomba has ordered that a learner be admitted into Blantyre Girls' Primary School after her admission was barred because of her dreadlocks. The court has also ordered that the school make up for the classes the learner has missed and provide any other necessary support they may require.

While the case itself is still ongoing, the court order now requires that the government allow learners from the often marginalised Rastafarian community to be admitted into schools without having to have their dreadlocks removed.


Since last year, Malawi's Rastafarian community has been pushing for the lifting of a government ban on learners with dreadlocks being admitted into public schools.

According to the Nyasa Times, members of the Rastafarian community said that "dreadlocks were a fundamental tenet of Rastafarian beliefs and therefore should be exempt from the policy," further adding that, "the prohibition of dreadlocked children in public schools violates the children's right to education as well as their freedom of worship - which are both enshrined in Malawi's constitution."

Discriminatory hair policies, be it on the basis of race or religion, are not exclusive to Malawi. Back in 2017, students at a number of South African high schools including Pretoria Girls' High School, protested against racist hair policies which made it "unacceptable" for girl students to wear their hair in its natural state.

South Africa's new Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi has also brought back the conversation about the politics of Black women and natural hair since winning last year's crown.

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