Scott-Mottley says Holness hypocritical on locs stance; demands hairstyle policy

Scott-Mottley says Holness hypocritical on locs stance; demands hairstyle policy

Sunday, August 02, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— People's National Party (PNP) spokesperson on justice, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, says a policy directive must be issued to all schools, ahead of their reopening next month, outlining that no child should be denied access based on natural hairstyles, including locs.

In a statement today, the senator said it is the Government's responsibility to ensure that all children have access to schools and cannot be denied on the basis of their hairstyle.

This, she said, would be consistent with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms set out in the Jamaican Constitution, which guarantees every child the right “to publicly funded tuition, in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary level.”

In her statement, Scott-Mottley blasted Prime Minister Andrew Holness, stating that during his term as Minister of Education, he 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 five-year-old student in court, to prevent her from attending school.”

She added that she believed the prime minister was being hypocritical in his statement yesterday, which said “our children must not be discriminated against, or deprived of their right to education”.

“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 locs from entering a government school,” she said.

“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,” she added.

The spokesperson also noted that the prime minister 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 heard in court.”

She said in September 2019, the child's mother wrote to the prime minister pleading, but he remained unmoved.

According to Scott-Mottley, the parents of the now seven-year-old girl have been assured that the PNP stands in full solidarity with their decision and has fought to ensure justice for their daughter.

“Under our constitution, she can be whatever she wants to be, wearing locs, as I have done for over twenty years,” she said.

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