Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Afros in school up for debate - Reid

Published:Thursday | January 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Davina Bennett, Miss Universe Jamaica 2017.

Who would bar Davina Bennett from attending school for wearing her afro?

That was the question raised by Education Minister Ruel Reid, who spoke to The Gleaner about some of the challenges in constructing the proposed grooming and nutrition policy that is expected to be implemented this term.

Bennett wooed the globe with her performance in the recent Miss Universe competition held in Las Vegas, her afro hairstyle being a hot topic.

Reid admitted that arriving at a standardised policy comes with challenges but indicated that the ministry would be engaging with citizens as it seeks to make the policy public by the end of March.

"Looking at Davina Bennett recently, the issue of afro came up. I think we might even have to have a debate. Would she have been barred from attending school if that were her hairstyle? These are some of the realities, and these are some of the issues we have had to resolve in the past," Reid told The Gleaner.

"I will allow the public to debate once we get the policy in place. But the afro is a staple in our culture and has been around from the '70s. In my consultations, a lot of persons have been weighing in on the issue (afro) - whether or not it is something that should be allowed in the Jamaican context," Reid said.

He also said that while he would allow schools the freedom to construct their own grooming manuals, he has asked that school administrators be reasonable, bearing in mind the cultural occurrences.

"When you set a rule, it needs to be very clear, it needs to be very specific, and most importantly, all the stakeholders need to have an opportunity to be heard. Parents and all other persons must know exactly what the standards are without any ambiguities," Reid said.

The need for a grooming policy came to the fore after a parent alleged that her son was banned from the Hopefield Preparatory School in St Andrew because of his hair.