Ministry of Education majoring in the minor
THE EDITOR, Madam:
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has deemed the issue of dress and grooming so important that it is having consultations with principals and deans of discipline at this crucial time, as they prepare for the new academic year. It will also consult with students and parents to ensure that a palatable policy is ‘developed’.
This action could be justifiable if the ministry could use data to prove that this issue is pervasive and has disenfranchised a significant number of students from accessing educational services, but it has not done this. The MOE already has a 43-page grooming policy, which it needs to monitor.
At registration, parents and students agree to abide by the rules which govern the institution. After some time, a few students and parents determine that these rules are burdensome. However, these individuals should be encouraged to channel their discontent through the student councils and boards which have representatives from the student body, PTA and the Ministry of Education. And, although it rarely grabs the headlines, schools have changed their grooming policy.
For weeks, the editorials of The Gleaner have beseeched the MOE to facilitate public discussions on the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission Report (properly known as the Patterson Report). It is ironic that this present public consultation focuses on one of the least consequential aspects of the report and one where the recommendation simply requires government action.
The issue of grooming is highly emotive but it is not a major crisis in the educational system. The over 20,000 students who are still unaccounted for, and the thousands of students who leave primary and high schools illiterate and innumerate, should occupy more of our time. The public consultations on how these issues can be resolved are long overdue!