n South African Journal of Education - The constitutional right to freedom of expression : how enforceable are school dress codes?

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



The constitutional changes in South Africa over the past decade have had far-reaching consequences on society. As organs of state, schools have been directly affected by the need to ensure that their operations and rules are constitutionally and legislatively compatible. Human rights do not exist purely as an ideal but must be promoted and enforced within the school sphere. One such right is the right to freedom of expression, and expression in the form of dress is a critical element of such expression within the school context. The issue of school dress codes in South Africa is examined with reference to the experiences of four other countries, in order to determine the constitutionality of such dress codes, and whether dress codes are an impermissible limitation of learners' freedom of expression, couched in permissible sounding language.

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