Mon, Aug 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Hair flies in debate over ban on schools' regulations

LET IT GROW The Ministry of Education recently banned schools' restrictions on hairstyles and dress codes, giving students the basic right to choose how they want to look


Many secondary-school principals were surprised at Education Minister Tu Cheng-sheng's (杜正勝) positive response to a students' petition. Tu not only agreed to accept the students' petition in person, but promised them hair regulations would be banned. The MOE later issued a bulletin to officially announce the new policy, which will start with the new semester next month.

Some schools' principals called the changes a "travesty of education in the guise of democracy." A number of them vowed to maintain existing regulations.

Tan Guang-ding (譚光鼎), principal of the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University, said that the school respected students' rights to choose their own hairstyles, as long as they did not get their hair dyed or permed.

"But I do not agree that hair regulations are a violation of students' human rights. Students come to school to receive an education and proper discipline. Schools' authority over students' hairstyles should not be denied," Tan said.

Facing a cool response from school principals, Vice Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) cited statistics released by the MOE after contacting local education heads, and said that 19 of 25 cities and counties were in favor of the abolition of the regulations. She admitted, however, that school principals were key to the success of the ministry's policy change.

Fan called on schools to give students the right to choose their own hairstyles, given that this is a democratic society.

"This was consistent with the idea that schools aim at teaching students to be responsible members of society by making decisions for themselves and thinking on their own," she said.

As many school principals hesitated to give up their authority over students' hair, however, hairstyle rights advocates may need to continue their fight until students can express themselves through various hairstyles without any restraints.

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