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Rastafarians mount protest at education ministry

Published:Tuesday | August 11, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Members of the Rastafarian community staging a demonstration in front of the head offices of the Ministry of Education on August 11, 2020 – Ian Allen

Fed up with what they say is the systematic discrimination of children with dreadlocks by school administrators, several Rastafarians today staged a peaceful protest in front of the head offices of the Ministry of Education.

They are calling for an immediate adjustment to the law and regulations governing public education.

The protest was fuelled by a recent court ruling that the constitutional right of a seven-year-old child was not violated when she was refused acceptance two years ago at  Kensington Primary School in Portmore, St Catherine, because her parents, Sherine and Dale Virgo, refused to remove her dreadlocks.

The family’s attorney intends to appeal.

READ: Parents of dreadlocked girl incensed at ‘systemic racism’ after court ruling

“We are here in solidarity with the young Virgo, and not just her, but Rasta children in general, because every year they put up a resistance towards Rastafari children or children with locks,” said Yvonne Hope, one of the chief organisers.

“Over the years it has just been a fight, and enough is enough,” she fumed.

The protesters hoisted placards as they called for Jamaicans to respect their dreadlocks.

“The Ministry of Education has a responsibility to level the playing field for all our children,” said Carol Narcisse, one of the protesters.

“Whether they are wearing locks for religious or no religious reason, the Ministry of Education has a responsibility to every single child to ensure that no one creates a rule that has the effect of discriminating against them and excluding them on the basis of that discriminatory premise,” said the civil-society advocate.

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