Weeks after the Ministry of Education (MOE) banned restrictions in public schools on permissible hairstyles for secondary school students, debate is raging among principals over how closely they will hew to the ministry's anything-goes hair policy.
During the Taipei Municipal Secondary School Principals Meeting, a two-day meeting held Thursday and yesterday to discuss educational issues, Taipei City Government's Bureau of Education Director Wu Ching-chi (
"[The bureau] supports the policy," Wu said. "But the lifting of hair regulations does not deny schools' authority to apply proper discipline regarding students' appearance."
While education officials stand firmly on the side of student's hairstyle rights, principals at the meeting expressed concern about implementing the policy, with some saying they would still put limits on how wild students can get with their coiffures.
"Carrying out the policy will be a big challenge for the school," said Bai Shi-shun (
Zhongshan Girl's High School and the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University will also continue the regulation of students' hairstyles.
"We do not allow students to dye or perm their hair. Violators will be punished with five points off of their grades and required to fix their hair within five days. Even though the [ministry's] policy was announced, we will stick to our rules," said Ding Ya-weng (
The ministry announced the lifting of hair regulations at secondary schools earlier this month. In its official letter issued to schools, the ministry stated that public schools should respect students' basic human rights and should not punish students for their hairstyles. Private schools, on the other hand, do not need to stick to the policy.
The ministry actually scrapped its guidelines on secondary school students' hairdos 17 years ago. But most secondary schools still maintain their own strict rules about students' hairstyle.
Many junior high schools still require boys to sport crewcuts, while girls' hair must be shoulder-length and neither dyed nor permed.
Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇), a high school student and the president an association that opposes any regulations on hair, endorsed the ministry's ban on the regulation of students' hairstyles, and called on schools to follow the policy.
"The freedom to determine our own hairstyle is a concrete representation of our full autonomy. Schools should respect students' human rights and stop ignoring the long-existing policy," he said.
Tan Guang-ding (譚光鼎), principal at the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University, said that the school respect students' rights to sport their own hairstyles, as long as they do 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.
With each side sticking to its guns, tension is only likely to grow between students seeking to express themselves through their hair, a ministry now defending that right and principals seeking to maintain their own authority.