Rastafarians have received backing from the office of the Ombudsman in the South over the issue of dreadlocked pupils.
In September 2012, education authorities at Makapwa Primary School in Thyolo expelled three learners of Rastafarian faith, arguing school rules and regulations do not allow dreadlocks.
Speaking at a sensitisation meeting for agriculture, police and education administrators, regional officer Paul Njola said the directive was illegal as it lacked constitutional backing.
He said the Rastas community has every reason to sue authorities at the Ministry of Education for violating their children’s rights by directing the pupils to shave.
Njola said Section 4 (33) of the Constitution of Malawi guarantees every person the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief, thought and academic freedom.
“Based on the right to freedom of religion, authorities at the Ministry of Education violated the rights of the Rastafarians. We need to appreciate that the Constitution doesn’t give teachers powers to come up with dressing codes for learners, but merely to teach.
“I, therefore, urge authorities to restrict their powers to teaching and not coming up with dressing codes that are in conflict with the law,” he said.
Miriam, George and Fadweck (then in Standards Eight, Six and Three respectively) at the time of their expulsion are children of Ras James Dinesi.