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As debate rages on in Antigua and Barbuda regarding the discrimination of Rastafarian children attending public schools, the Ministry of Education and Sports said it is in the final stages of a draft policy on hairstyles in schools.
In a statement, the ministry said it condemns all forms of discrimination.
It said: “Section 49 of the Education Act, 2008 authorises public schools to ‘introduce rules to govern the attire, conduct and discipline of students’ as long as these rules have been approved by the Director of Education.”
The ministry noted Section 17 (e) of the Act further stipulates that it is the student’s responsibility to “observe standards approved by the Director of Education or the principal”. These standards include keeping hair and overall appearance clean and tidy.
The ministry said school rules pertaining to hair should be made within the framework provided by the following guidelines:
- Rules should not discriminate against students based on the natural texture, length or colour of their hair.
- Hair should be :
- Clean, that is, free of foul odour and/or contagions.
- Neat, well-groomed and orderly presented.
- Hair should not:
- Pose a health and/or safety risk to self or others.
- Be a distraction to the general school population. (Caribbean Loop)