A Lao middle-school student near the country’s capital Vientiane was removed from class in the middle of an exam on July 6 for sporting an improper hairstyle, sparking a social media uproar and angering his mother, who said the rules were unclear and her son should have been allowed at least to finish his exam before being sent home.
“To tell the truth, I don’t even know what the standard hairstyle is that the school requires, or how short it’s supposed to be,” the 11-year-old boy’s mother told RFA’s Lao Service in an exchange of messages on Facebook. The boy’s name has been withheld because he is a minor and his mother asked not to be identified to avoid repercussions for talking to foreign media.
“But if his hairstyle violated school rules, he should have been warned first and allowed to finish his exam, instead of being kicked out of the classroom in the middle of the exam with his work almost finished,” she said.
Writing on social media, where his mother’s post about the expulsion was shared by thousands, parents of students at another school meanwhile expressed sympathy and support for the expelled student, voicing concern that having been removed from class before completing his exam, he may now fail his class and face future disappointment in life.
“This was not a serious violation,” a female high school student added. “He had worked hard for a long time to prepare for his exam, and the school should at least have let him finish taking it before kicking him out.”
“If he was just trying to copy his peers and had ignored many warnings from his teacher, then he should have been removed from class, though,” she said.
Reached for comment, a former official from the school district told RFA that Ministry of Education and Sport regulations don’t specifically state that a student may be expelled in the middle of exams for wearing an improperhair style.
“It’s up to the schools to independently enforce the rules,” he said, adding that each school enforces education ministry rules differently.
“Even though I don’t personally agree with expelling a student in the middle of exams, I can’t say anything about that. It’s their school,” he said.