Education and Youth Minister Fayval Williams is advising parents to air their grouses through the proper channels and not lock school gates or accost school administrators if they have issues with school rules.
“If you believe the school rule needs to be changed, engage the process. Do not lock the school gate, do not bad up the teacher or principal. Engage the process. If the school says no pink hair, do not send your child with pink hair. Obey the school rules,” she said in a statement in Parliament on Tuesday.
The minister implored parents to ensure that their children obey the school rules and if they desire a change, this is best done by a standard process. She suggested that parents attend Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings where they can put the particular issue on the table.
“Our rules and regulations are set by a standard process. It includes a series of consultations with students, especially with student leaders, teachers and other members of staff,” she said.
Williams stressed that school rules, including those relating to dress and grooming are about discipline in schools and prepare students for living in the wider society where rules exist and all citizens have to obey.
“We must teach our children in our schools to obey the school rules…I do not believe that a parent can simply say, ‘nothing is wrong with the way I am sending my child to school’. A parent cannot just say nothing is wrong with sending his or her child to school in tight pants when the school rules specifically describe the pants that should be worn,” she said.
She noted as well that if there is no discipline in schools, teachers will have a very hard time educating children.
In response to the minister’s statement, Opposition spokesperson on education and training Dr Angela Brown Burke agreed that school rules need to be obeyed and children and parents should not speak to school administrators in a disrespectful manner.
“We also have to teach our children and our parents how to deal with issues that they have a problem with,” she said.
She said she is hoping that there is a review of dress and grooming in schools from a policy perspective, especially in relation to culture and ethnicity in terms of how hair is groomed.
“I think it is time for us to recognise those kinds of ethnic differences and how they show themselves and therefore how inherent in some of the rules that we have in school that they bear some of our past that should be eliminated,” she said.
“In the same way we are also beginning to look at our dress code, for example, in Parliament…we need to do the very same thing in schools. I believe and I would love to see that led from a policy perspective,” she added.
The ministry is now having consultations on its Draft Students’ Dress and Grooming Policy in Public Educational Institutions.