Education ministry advances conversation on hairstyle policy

─ parents, teachers and students commend move

Following the relaxation of the hairstyle rules in observance of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Ministry of Education is advancing the conversation by soliciting the views of stakeholders with the launching of an online survey.

On its official Facebook page, the ministry on Thursday, invited stakeholders to participate in the survey to record their opinions on hairstyle policies that individual schools have embraced.

One of the hairstyle rules at a Georgetown school states that “female students are required to comb their hair away from their faces [and] contained in one or two ponytails.”

Male students are not exempt from these policies, with one rule stating that they must “have one level cut around the entire head.”

Parents, guardians, teachers, and students have commended the government’s initiative to openly consult with the individuals who are directly affected by these rules.

Jessica Hackett

Sixth form student of Queen’s College, Jessica Hackett believes that, “They [government] is taking a good initiative in actually seeking responses from not only teachers and parents, but students, since it is the students who are mostly affected by these rules. It shows the ministry’s interest in carrying out the necessary consultation needed, as it relates to the implementation of new rules,” she expressed.

Carmalita Byrne

Student of the St Joseph High School, Carmalita Byrne, highlighted that, not only is consultation key, but the method.

“There are situations that are happening right in front of you or to you and there is nothing you can do or say about it, many times because you are a student…therefore, to get the views of those affected in a private manner, for those who may be afraid to speak out, [these] surveys are the most preferable,” she shared.

Jade Atwell

Jade Atwell of the Marian Academy said this approach shows great leadership by the ministry.

“Decision making without consultation with those affected is the epitome of poor leadership, and too often we see this situation occur in our everyday lives…I commend the ministry of education for allowing all stakeholders affected by the situation in regards to hairstyles at school to be heard,” the student noted.

DPI also spoke to parents and guardians who commended the move.

Crystal Andrews

Crystal Andrews said, “I think that the survey is the first step towards something much bigger…I love the fact that the ministry is putting actions in place toward making a change and not just feeding us with empty promises.”

Mother of one, Eulita Browne-Phillips, also highlighted the importance of having parents involved in the process.

“I think that it is a good move that the ministry is making to consult about this whole hair [concern], because as a parent…I am very happy that they are consulting with the public [about] it,” she explained.

Ackeeni Bentinck-Kingston

Ackeeni Bentinck Kingston, a teacher of St. Joseph High School noted that, “It is very important to hear the students’ side of the story because they are the ones that will be most affected by the change in school rule…in most cases, the adults take the forefront of these decisions without thinking about the impact of the decision on the people who are actually involved…so this process is needed.”

Diane Ramnauth

Another teacher, Diane Ramnauth explained that it is positive to have teachers involved in the consultative process, for several reasons.

“I believe teachers should be involved and it’s a good initiative to involve the teachers because, at the end of the day, we are the ones that have to teach these children,” she said.

Nima Flue-Bess

Physical Education teacher, Nima Flue-Bess also acknowledged the positivity in consulting with the relevant stakeholders on this matter.

“They should allow it to be heard…I think they should meet with these parents or children in a…formal setting,” she noted.

Also on Thursday, Minister, Priya Manickchand, M.P hosted a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting at the Den Amstel Primary school in Region Three.

Stemming from the feedback received on the relaxation of the policy on IWD, the ministry said that it has heard the concerns and is opening the door for opinions and thoughts to be shared on how the ministry should deal with the matter.

This is in keeping with this administration’s mandate of inclusive decision and policymaking.

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