KANCHANABURI — A teacher presses a ruler onto the nape of a student’s neck while the other crudely shears five inches of her straight locks off in a matter of seconds.
Kanchananukroh School in Kanchanaburi City was gaining viral infamy Friday not for its academics or athletics, but a haphazard haircut forced upon a student with hair deemed too long.
“Teachers warned her many times, but she didn’t get her hair cut according to the rules,” administrator Phawadee Jittamai said, defending the haircut. “We cut her hair according to the school rules in the student handbook. The student who posted the clip also damaged the school’s reputation and will have their behavior scores docked.”
Phawadee said the haircut happened Jan. 10 to a Matthayom 4, or Grade 10 student.
While it’s not uncommon for teachers to summarily enforce school dress codes, including hair cuts, rare footage of it happening combined with its crudity drew debate.
The video’s views exploded after it was posted to a popular Facebook page for hot topics to more than 650,000, with more than 3,000 people sharing it since Thursday afternoon.
Tanawat Wongchai, 20, a former student president at Chulalongkorn University and outspoken progressive, said schools should end such practices.
“We have to have to allow students to freestyle hair, which will eliminate this problem,” Tanawat said. “Although this student may have broken the rules, the teacher’s problem-solving method should not employ violence and violate student’s rights.”
Under Education Ministry rules, boys’ hair must be no longer than their hairline and girls’ must keep it no longer than the nape. Schools have the leeway to allow longer hair, but it must be tied up properly.
Still, both rules could be overridden by individual school rules.
“If dress codes and hair don’t have an effect on studies, then the rules should be updated to go with the times,” Tanawat said, referencing Bangkok Christian College’s recent uniforms-optional experiment.
“So strict about rules, but Thai education is one of the worst in the world,” Facebook commentator Rungsi Sutthimanus wrote.
Songyok Daf pointed out that the teachers in the clip are themselves violating the dress code by not wearing their official government khakis.
“Teachers dress however they want, let down their hair, wear casual dress and wear silk, like an MP’s wife,” Songyok wrote, attaching a graphic advocating teachers’ uniforms.
However, around a fourth of commenters sided with the time-worn practice, many saying it had happened to them. Some advocated for the girl to be expelled.
“In my day, they shorn my head so unevenly that I went home looking like a gecko. My mom said I deserved it because she already told me to cut my hair. These days people are so sensitive,” Sanong Kookratoke commented.
“Teachers, cutting their hair counts as violating their rights, so don’t bother,” Techaniti Prajakwong wrote. “If she was already warned and punished and still broke the rules, then just leave the school!”