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The High Court of Malawi ordered the government this month to allow children with dreadlocks to enroll in public schools, a verdict that is seen as a victory for the country’s Rastafarian community, the Voice of America reported.

The case centers on two Rastafarian minors who were barred from enrolling in public schools because they refused to cut their dreadlocks, as required by the Ministry of Education.

The regulation required all learners to cut their hair before admission into government schools, according to the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

Lawyers representing the minors said the move was unlawful and infringed on their right to an education. But Attorney General Chakaka Nyirenda countered the government had no policy against dreadlocks and that public schools were banning the students on their own.

In its ruling, the court said the policy was unconstitutional and rejected a request by the attorney general to stop the proceedings. It also ordered the government to inform all public schools by the end of June that no student should be denied entry into classrooms because of sporting dreadlocks.

The Ministry of Education said it would fully comply with the ruling, a move welcomed by Malawi’s Rastafarians.

The policy had previously forced many parents to send their children to private schools – or cut their hair.

Dreadlocks are important for Rastafarians because they symbolize the mane of the Lion of Judah mentioned in the Biblical books of Genesis and Revelation.

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