Malawi court orders schools to allow dreadlocks
Rastafarian children play, 04 February 2005, in a school built by the Jamaican
Copyright © africanews
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/2005 AFP
A High Court in Malawi has directed the Ministry of Education to allow students with dreadlocks to be enrolled in public schools in the country.
The court on Monday further ordered the Ministry to issue a circular by June 30, announcing the removal of restrictions barring Rastafarian learners from attending public schools.
The court ruled on a petition filed on behalf of two Rastafarians who were denied admission to public schools in 2010 and 2016 for growing dreadlocks.
The learners, through human rights organisations, obtained an injunction and, thereafter, filed a suit seeking to have Rastafari children allowed access to schools without prejudice, local media reported.
Justice Nzione Ntaba in her ruling on Monday said: “The Ministry of Education should issue a statement to allow all children of the Rastafarian community with dreadlocks to be allowed in class. The circular should be done by June 30.”
Rastafarianism is an Abrahamic religion from Jamaica that stresses living what they regard as natural, including their hair.
However, Malawi’s Rastafarians have long been sidelined by education policies requiring students to cut their hair to promote what they describe as uniformity among students.
In June 2020, a similar case was ruled upon by a Kenyan court, which also barred schools from turning away Rastafari learners.