Some parents say school admins should not make uniform rules Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

With debate raging about whether school uniforms in Jamaica are appropriate and how school administrators handle violations, some parents are suggesting that individual schools should not be allowed to determine dress codes.

Questions have also been raised about the lack of sanctions for school administrators who lock students out of school for uniform violations, despite the Ministry of Education and Youth stating that it should not be done.

Speaking in an online discussion on the dress and grooming policy hosted by the ministry, a participant who identified herself as Miss Christie described some of the uniform rules as ridiculous and, as such, individual school boards should not be allowed to make their own rules.

“I’m in disagreement with leaving the policy-making to each school because this is causing the problem that we’re having now…Why is it necessary for a young lady to wear a box pleated skirt – not even a cotton skirt – at a length just above her socks? What is that proving?

“These are the things that happen when we leave schools to make their own policy. It’s ridiculous and absolutely doesn’t make sense,” Miss Christie said.

However, Education Minister Fayval Williams suggested that parents speak with other parents to get their support, before writing petitions to take to school boards to make changes.

The minister said the grooming and dress policy being developed by the education ministry would give a broad outline regarding uniforms, hairstyles and other attire.

She encouraged parents “who feel that their school’s rules are old-fashioned or foolish to engage in a peaceful process of having their voices heard”.

“We are going to ensure that the policy was reached in a consultative way, in which the parents had some input in the process,” Williams said.

Miss Christie, a mother of two, said she made sure to research the dress policy of schools before choosing them for her children. She also suggested that there should be a dress policy for teachers.

“There needs to be a national policy for both students and teachers. The students need somebody to follow,” Miss Christie said without elaborating on what should be in the policy for teachers.

One parent participating in the online meeting said some teachers used the dress and grooming policy to punish children.

She said her son was punished for wearing his hair “less than one inch high” because she complained about teachers being absent from or late for classes.

Another parent in support of the lengthy uniforms said the shorter uniforms are sometimes blown up by the wind, thus exposing the undergarments of schoolgirls.

“Sometimes girls are standing on the balcony of the school when the wind catches the skirt and it’s over their head… and they’re trying to hold it and it won’t stay still. I’m thinking maybe that is one of the reasons that caused the schools to bring the length a little lower for that not to happen,” the parent said.

Minister Williams said the policy was important to develop discipline and fairness in society.

“I’ve heard it asked, what does it have to do with education if a student in brown shoes shows up for school when the school rule says black shoes? Children will see that child in brown shoes and ask, ‘Why can’t I wear brown shoes? That’s unfair’,” the minister said.

“That’s how you start to develop dissent in society. By breaking the rules, what you have introduced into the school environment is disobedience. It’s about creating an environment in which the students are learning that there are rules in society,” she said.