The Jamaican Ministry of Education has issued a nationwide warning to its schools not to bar students from sitting exams this summer over their choice in hairstyle.
Around the world, schools are facing civil suits for barring students from enrolling, attending class or sitting exams due to what they deem as “inappropriate.”
But the Jamaican government says enough is enough.
According to The Gleaner, the warning was issued after several students reported that they were turned away from sitting exams because they “needed a haircut.”
The ministry asserted that a student’s hairstyle is not a “hindrance” to learning, and neither should it be used to exclude students from school. The ministry says it is currently investigating the reported incidents and will release its findings once its investigation is complete.
Last August, Jamaica’s Supreme Court upheld a decision of a Kingston school to demand a 5-year-old student cut her dreadlocks to attend classes. The ruling stated that Kensington Primary School did not breach the child’s constitutional rights when it denied her entry in 2018 for having dreadlocks.
Sherine Virgo, the child’s mother, was told to cut her daughter’s hair for “hygiene” reasons.
Rastafarians, who wear dreadlocks as a culture and religion, account for two percent of Jamaica’s population and have long been ostracized from Jamaican society. The Constitutional Courts of Jamaica did not formally recognize the religion until 2003.
The panel of three judges, Justices Sonia Bertram-Linton, Evan Brown and Nicole Simmons, believe that it may be time for the courts to step in and set more stringent guidelines where it pertains to dress codes in public schools.