Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Letter of the Day | Hair-brained resistance

Published:Friday | September 16, 2016 | 9:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I am flabbergasted that the discussion on Hopefield Preparatory School's rejection of three-year-old Zavier Assam because of his hairstyle is still ongoing. In fact, I am even more surprised at the momentum gained by this story, which has now gone all the way to the education ministry.

I fail to understand why the media is fanning the flames of a matter that is clearly much ado about nothing. Parents do not, and cannot, dictate school rules. It is imperative that schools have standards and that children are taught conformity from a very early age. This is because adult life is full of laws and rules that must be adhered to, even if we believe them to be unfair.

Parents cannot, in good conscience, complain about indiscipline and a lack of strong leadership in schools if they become rule breakers themselves. Their children look to them first for guidance, so as Jamaicans, we must be careful of the door that is being opened because of this incident. We must avoid predicaments such as this or some students and parents will begin to view school rules as 'dictatorial pettiness' that should only be followed sporadically and at personal will. Guidelines cannot be applied to some and not others, they must be consistent.

Those who reiterate that learning has nothing to do with what is worn and what the child's hair looks like are evidently unaware of the fact that respect for the uniform is a part of the educational process. Children need to learn obedience, and that includes following simple school regulations and understanding that they represent the institution. Appearance, along with behaviour, is vital to its reputation.

 

DISRUPTING LEARNING

 

Discipline and strong leadership are a necessities for both children and young people. If Dr Penelope Amritt had followed the rules, her son would be in school right now - learning. Therefore, this incident is a greater disruption to his schooling than the request for a haircut.

Unless a child is in danger, parents should abstain from placing their authority above that of the schools'. If they do that, their children will not respect the school. This sense of entitlement does the child more harm than good, and parents who disrupt their child's learning because of their own agenda should be utterly ashamed of their atrocious behaviour.

I applaud Hopefield Preparatory School for its stance and encourage other institutions of learning to continue to rigorously and proudly enforce their guidelines. Do not back down because of the minority that cannot be bothered to follow them. In order to protect yourselves, ensure that the school directives are clearly communicated on the last day of term in the previous academic year or as soon as the child is registered if new.

Parents must read school policies and strictly adhere to them, or deal with their children being sent home. If they cannot abide by the rules, they can send their children elsewhere.

SASHAKAY FAIRCLOUGH

Barrister, Youth Advocate