Hair rules: Manickchand says children’s rights, self-esteem must be considered

--Teachers to have their say next week

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The conversation on dated hair rules in schools continues with the Ministry of Education now moving to meet with teachers next but subject minister Priya Manickchand emphasised that children’s rights and self- esteem must be considered.

Many have lamented that these hair rules are restrictive. Some highlighted that the rules have a much greater impact on Afro-Guyanese girls, many of whom have been forced to ‘relax’ their hair to maintain a neat appearance.

Resultantly, Manickchand said that the ministry has been compiling the rules from schools across the country with a view of assessing them and their impact on children.

“The rules are all over the place at individual schools,” Manickchand said while responding to questions at the sidelines of an event on Monday.

She said that some schools have “subjective interpretations” of what a “neat and tidy” child should look like; that means that some schools permit certain hair styles, while others do not.

“… These are not things that affect the curriculum in any way and going past whether or not it affects learning and reception of information; we’re dealing with a rights issue, and a confidence issue and a self- esteem issue,” the Education Minister emphasised.

During a recent panel discussion, hosted by the News Room, Salima Hinds, a feminist and gender specialist, reminded the virtual audience that Guyana is a signatory to various international treaties that cater for the rights of children.

As per these rights, children should be learning in a safe, comfortable environment that is free from any discrimination.

Manickchand described the issue as “varied and dynamic.”

She, however, said, “If there is one thing that we are sure of, it is that a school should not be a place that is hurting children or in any way causing them to doubt themselves.”

Already, considerable input has already been made on this conversation. Following the social media outcry, the Education Ministry launched three surveys to garner input from stakeholders- parents, students and teachers.

On Monday, Manickchand said that within the first 24 hours of releasing those surveys, more than 4,000 persons responded in each category.

Now, the ministry will be meeting with teachers in a more structured way. She previously explained that this is important because teachers are the ones who enforce the rules that were created by schools.

Manickchand said that this meeting is expected to be hosted next week; subsequently, parents will be engaged.

 

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