Parents dressing preschool boys in earrings
Brass Africa-shaped stud earrings<strong> (Photo: Ashenafi Abayomi)

A school principal is calling for stricter guidelines for the student's dress and grooming policy, especially for young boys at the early childhood and primary level.

Maxine Lewis, principal of the Essex Hall Primary School, raised her concern during the consultation session for the Draft Students' Dress and Grooming Policy in Public Educational Institutions at Jamaica College auditorium on Tuesday.

She argued that some parents are adamant in sending their boys to schools with plaited hear and knob earrings and have even threatened the school's administration for discouraging the practice.

"When you talk to those parents they are defiant. They are so defiant that they will even threaten you, they will not accept or abide by the rule? What do we do as an institution when you have your guidelines in place? We can't send them home because they are babies," she said.

Lewis stressed that the issue of grooming is more concerning at the infant level.

"Even the babies for the infant section are coming in with their hair like that (plaited) and they ears are pierced; they put in the earrings and we are unable to stop them, and sometimes the child might look like a girl and children will mistakenly call them a girl. The boy's self-esteem is broken and sometimes the boy's pride is broken but the parents are still defiant," she said.

"I am wondering if there is going to be something that we can choose from the guideline to say, 'this is not a part of the policy and parents will understand that plaits should not be worn by the boys and so on because to me we need to have clear guidelines'," she argued.

Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams, in response to the principal's concern, said more consultation sessions regarding dress and grooming need to be conducted with parents.

"As a ministry we are committed to speaking with our parents. From the many observations there is a very wide gap where principals are and where parents are. The ministry has a role to play in ensuring that we have those conversations with our parents. This is a first in a series and we will take it to our parents to get their reaction on this and to seek greater compliance for these rules at the school," she said.

The education minister also noted that every institution will be required to review and document its own guidelines in keeping with the policy.

"This, we believe, will help to mitigate some of the conflicts that arise because of lack of information or varying expectations," she said.

Other consultation sessions will also be held with students.

— Brittny Hutchinson

Brittny Hutchinson

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