Thu | Sep 24, 2020

PNP calls for policy directive on grooming ahead of new school year

Published:Sunday | August 2, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Opposition Spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott-Mottley - Fie photo

People’s National Party Spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott-Mottley, is proposing that a policy directive be issued to all schools, ahead of their reopening next month, outlining that no child should be denied access based on natural hairstyles, including dreadlocks.

Scott-Mottley charges that Prime Minister Andrew Holness, as Minister of Education, had every opportunity to ensure that children are not discriminated against on account of their hair, but instead, his government fought the parents of the seven-year-old student in court to prevent her from attending school.

The court ruled on Friday that the child’s constitutional right was not breached when the school denied her access in 2018 for having dreadlocks.

READ: Parents of dreadlocked girl incensed at ‘systemic racism’ after court ruling

Reacting to the development, Holness said that children must not be discriminated against or deprived of their right to an education on the basis of their hairstyle.

READ: Children must not be discriminated against, says Prime Minister

But, Scott-Mottley poured cold water on his stance.

“This statement also rings hollow since it was his Attorney General who went to court to give Kensington Primary a right to bar a five-year-old child with locks from entering a government school,” she said in a statement today.

“Now that the public response has exploded in the face of the government, the Prime Minister seems to be taking cover, even though the blocking of the five-year-old was a verdict sought by his own Attorney General to reinforce a policy by his own Minister of Education,” Scott-Mottley continued.

The opposition spokesperson noted that Holness only gave up portfolio responsibility for education last month, and so had ample time during his incumbency to take the initiative before this matter was even heard in court.

In September 2019, the child’s mother wrote to Holness pleading, but he remained unmoved, she said.

Scott-Mottley said the government must ensure that all children have access to schools and cannot be denied on the basis of their hairstyle, including dreadlocks.

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