The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by a St Johns College parent, Mohammed Ishmail who was challenging a High Court ruling over the keeping of beard at school.

Mr Ishmail wanted his son to keep his beard while at St Johns College, a private school in Harare.

The college rules dictate that students must always have a clean shave.

The old adage that says ‘when you are in Rome do as the Romans do’ has been emphasised by the Supreme Court when it dismissed the appeal.

Mr Ishmail had taken the college to court after it had denied the child access to school for failing to abide by the school rules which state that all students must maintain a clean shave.

The parent who was represented by Professor Lovemore Madhuku argued that the school was infringing on the rights of the child to his religion.

The Supreme Court reasoned that while religion is a right that must be respected and protected, the appellant Mr Ishmail was mandated to also respect and obey the school rules.

The college which was represented by advocate Thabani Mpofu argued that by signing a contract enrolling at the school, he had an obligation to abide by the school regulations and hence the school code of conduct overrides his right to religion.

The court noted that the college as a home to students of various beliefs and religion is guided by a clear code of conduct and failure to adhere to such conduct may result in a chaotic situation at the school as each and every student would want their beliefs or religion followed.