St Margaret's Secondary principal makes U-turn on bald move

Mrs Tan admits that the school could exercise more flexibility. -- ZAO BAO PHOTO FILE
Mrs Tan admits that the school could exercise more flexibility. -- ZAO BAO PHOTO FILE
Mrs Tan admits that the school could exercise more flexibility. Cherry Wong (left) and Leia Lai are among five St Margaret's Secondary School students who shaved their heads for charity.
Mrs Tan admits that the school could exercise more flexibility. Cherry Wong (left) and Leia Lai are among five St Margaret's Secondary School students who shaved their heads for charity.ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

The five secondary school girls who shaved their heads to raise money for a children's cancer charity will be allowed to attend lessons without wearing wigs after a U-turn by the principal.

Mrs Marion Tan, the head of St Margaret's Secondary in Farrer Road, had taken the students to task for not wearing wigs after they promised to do so.

However, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, in a post on his Facebook page yesterday, revealed that the incident had been resolved on Tuesday.

He wrote: "The girls shared with their principal the learning they have had through this experience. Mrs Tan has also reflected on her decision and understood that the girls wanted to show empathy and solidarity with cancer patients which entails the experience of going bald. With this in mind, she has supported all five in their wish not to conceal their shaved heads."

The incident has drawn enormous public reaction online and in The Straits Times' Forum, with many suggesting that the principal's request for wigs opposed the spirit of Hair for Hope. Others pointed out that Mrs Tan had every right to enforce school rules and teach students to keep their promises.

Mrs Tan said: "Having heard the girls, I agree that the school could exercise more flexibility in this particular case and I have also addressed the students and staff at the school assembly."

Madam Emily Chia, 41, whose daughter Leia, 15, was one of those who took part, said: "I'm happy for them. Now, the other girls don't have to suffer the discomfort and heat of wearing the wigs."

Mr Heng noted that the school was trying to teach the girls that character is seen in how commitments are honoured. He added: "This, then, is the real heart of education, that everyone appreciates there is a learning moment in every situation, in every decision we make, in every promise we pledge."

caiwj@sph.com.sg