Senator Scott-Mottley says Prime Minister Andrew Holness, as Minister of Education, had every opportunity to ensure that children are not discriminated against on account of their hair, but instead, his government fought the parents of the five-year-old student in court, to prevent her from attending school.
Senator Scott-Mottley says the Prime Minister is, therefore, being hypocritical in his statement yesterday which said that “our children must not be discriminated against, or deprived of their right to education”.
“This statement also rings hollow since it was his Attorney General who went to court to give Kensington Primary a right to bar a five-year-old child with locks from entering a government school,” she said.
His statement is also contemptuous to the Jamaican people, as Paragraph 47 of the response to the claim as quoted by the Gleaner said “It was targeted at hairstyles that were found to be the source of bad hygiene and disorder in classes, which ultimately reduced the effectiveness of the teaching and learning experience.”
“Now that the public response has exploded in the face of the government, the Prime Minister seems to be taking cover, even though the blocking of the five year old was a verdict sought by his own Attorney General, to reinforce a policy by his own Minister of Education”, Senator Scott-Mottley said.
In a statement today, the PNP Shadow Minister said it should be noted that the Prime Minister only gave up portfolio responsibility for Education last month, and so had ample time during his incumbency to take the initiative before this matter was even heard in court. In September 2019, the child’s mother wrote to the Prime Minister pleading, but he remained unmoved.
Senator Scott-Mottley said the government must ensure that all children have access to schools and cannot be denied on the basis of their hairstyle, including locks. This, she said, would be consistent with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms set out in the Jamaican Constitution which guarantees every child the right “to publicly funded tuition, in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary level.”
Senator Scott-Mottley assured the parents of the now 7-year-old girl that the PNP was in full solidarity with their decision and fought to ensure justice for their daughter, who is a top student at Kensington Primary School in St. Catherine. “Under our constitution, she can be whatever she wants to be wearing locks, as I have done for over twenty years,” she said.
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