Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
The National Parent-Teachers Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) president has called on school administrators to ease up on the stance taken against tight-pants-wearing students and others found in breach of school dress codes.
The newly installed president, Everton Hannam, said that while students have an obligation to adhere to dress codes laid down by school administrators, turning them away for not adhering to the rules must be a last resort.
"There must be a procedure before we come to that. It would be best that a location is found at the school to have them there for the day and administer whatever disciplinary measures. We wouldn't want to have children turned back to go back on the street. They are not going home," Hannam told The Gleaner.
There have been reports of some schools turning away students who are found in breach. However, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has made it clear that school administrators have his full backing if they decide to apply such measures.
"I support that. Students must obey the reasonable code of discipline. School is not a fashion show; it's a place of learning and of character development.
"I have no intention of interfering with the proper exercise of standards by Mr Paul Adams or anyone," Thwaites said in reference to a recent statement by principal of Herbert Morrison Technical High School, Paul Adams, that students found in breach of the dress code would not be allowed on the school compound.
Hannam, in making his point, said turning away students is defeating the purpose of education and that alternative disciplinary measures should be examined.
"If we are really looking at solving crime and reducing truancy, then all of us have to make a contribution to see how best we can contribute to reducing the number of students who should be in school during school hours.
"The one way, certainly, is not turning them back - we are talking about extending the teaching hours for students. When we send them home, that is six or eight hours they will be missing from class," Hannam said.