No wigs for St Margaret’s five: Education Minister

No wigs for St Margaret’s five: Education Minister
TODAY file photo
Not all the five St Margaret’s students who shaved for the Hair for Hope campaign will have to wear wigs, says Heng Swee Keat
Published: 10:51 AM, August 7, 2013
Updated: 3:15 PM, March 21, 2016
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SINGAPORE — The five St Margaret’s Secondary School girls who shaved their heads in support of the Hair for Hope campaign will not have to wear wigs, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said today (Aug 7) after having spoken to Mrs Marion Tan, the school’s principal.

“It is reasonable to ask if and how exceptions (to the school’s rules) could be made, under special circumstances,” wrote Mr Heng in a post to his Facebook wall today.

“Mrs Tan, on her part, has also reflected on her decision, and understood that the girls wanted to show empathy and solidarity with cancer patients which entail the experience of going bald. With this in mind, she has supported all five in their wish not to conceal their shaved heads.

“I am glad that the Principal, teachers and students of St Margaret’s Secondary School have resolved this and will move on from here.”

The school had previously made the five girls promise to wear wigs as a condition for their participating in the campaign. After some resistance, the five complied but two subsequently said that they developed rashes from wearing wigs.

St Margaret's does not permit hairstyles deemed as "punk, unfeminine and sloppy". The Hair for Hope campaign is intended as a show of solidarity with children with cancer, who may suffer severe hair loss from chemotherapy treatment.

The Education Minister’s Facebook post, in full, reads as follows:

“Some parents have been asking if St Margaret’s Secondary School was harsh in asking some students to wear wigs after they shaved their heads to show support for children with cancer. I would like to share some thoughts on this.

“First, the teaching community and I are very proud when our students show great character, such as by showing solidarity with those afflicted with cancer. It is not easy for a teenage girl to shave her head — I fully appreciate and applaud the commitment it shows. I personally support the Hair for Hope campaign and, in fact, was happy to join the organisers last year when they invited me. I remember a 15-year-old cancer survivor who had his head shaved. I thought it was very brave of him to show the operation scar on his head. I could understand how much it meant to know others empathise with him.

“We want our schools to nurture young people with a natural empathy for those who have known suffering. I know that Mrs Tan, the Principal of St Margaret’s, feels the same way, which is why she gave her support to the students who first sought the school’s permission to shave their heads, on the condition that the girls would don wigs in school. Many have asked why Mrs Tan did not take into account the fact that in the context of Hair for Hope, going bald is a sign of solidarity and empathy for cancer patients. I know some may say, why is the school so rigid in the first place? Other schools let their students bare their heads for the same cause, don’t they?

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