TTUTA Tobago officer Bradon Roberts says as far as he knows, there are no fixed rules in schools governing students’ hairstyles.
He also said he is not aware of any cases in which students have been sent home because of their hairstyles.
THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, addressing Emancipation celebrations at the Store Bay Heritage Park on Monday, urged Tobagonians to reject rules that stymie their creativity and development.
Augustine reminded them of the Progressive Democratic Patriots’ decision, in its first month in office, to get rid of what he called the “nonsensical dress-code policy.”
He said as an independent nation, TT is responsible for its own destiny.
“We must go beyond the dress code, though, and we must get to the place where we must remove those ridiculous and downright dotish rules in our schools that somehow prevent our young black girls from shining.
“We still live in a space where our boys and girls are being sent home for afros, cane rows – being sent home because their hair doesn’t fit into the stereotype or the rules demanded by white colonials. We need to get rid of those rules from our schools.”
Augustine said he will not support school officials who send home students because of their hairstyles.
“If we have school supervisors, principals and teachers out there sending home your children and the girls because they have a little puff of afro at the end of their hair, I say to you parents, I am going to stand with you in telling those teachers that they are out of place.
“This is 2022, and if we are not going to become confident in our own skins, this year, when will we ever become confident in the castles of our own skins.”
Roberts said while he supports Augustine’s statement, “Those rules are not cemented or hardcore rules in any case.
“I don’t know that a child with an afro could be denied education.
“Those are just some beliefs that were handed down from principal to principal, from school management to school management as persons change,” he told Newsday on Tuesday
“So it is not that teachers of today just felt that need to uphold such rules. That is the training we have all come through. That is the culture that we would have had.”
Roberts believes greater attention must be paid to moral/ethical education or students.
“The focus should be on character so that the students don’t get outrageous, where their hairstyles becomes a distraction. Persons express themselves differently.
“So we don’t want to limit someone’s expression, but the expression should not be a distraction.”
Roberts also believes too much attention is paid to things of little importance in the education system, for example, students’ having the correct belt and wearing shoes that are totally black.
“I understand respect for uniform, and we could teach that, and be more firm with that in the moral and ethical way where we give encouragement to persons, because that is the direction to which the world has gone to. Whether right or wrong, we can’t fight it down.”
But Roberts said schools could encourage rather than mandate students to do things.
“With education, people would make the right decision, which is to educate and not so much force.”