The Ministry of Education is adopting a no tolerance attitude towards schools which attempt to change their uniforms without getting the proper authorisation from the ministry.
The position of the ministry was outlined after a primary school on the sister isle of Carriacou found itself in an unfortunate situation on the first day of the re-opening of school on September 3 as students showed up with two different uniforms.
Minister of Education, Emmalin Pierre told reporters at the weekly post-cabinet press briefing at the Ministerial Complex that although the school in question had sought permission from the ministry on the uniform issue, it was not given the go ahead to change it.
“It has been brought to my attention … that in one school, some students showed up in one uniform and others showed up in another uniform. Now this is totally unacceptable…”, she said.
“…In the case of that school, a request was made and the response to that request was in the negative, meaning that no permission was granted to that school as it relates to a change in uniform”, she added.
The Minister went on: “We are concerned about the implication of those actions as it relates to the discipline that we are attempting to encourage, the partnership that we are attempting to encourage and what message it sends for the education system”.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Finley Jeffrey explained that the change in school uniform is governed by Education Act, and that an attempt was made by Happy Hill Secondary School to do the same but it was blocked.
Jeffrey pointed out that the Education Act clearly states specifically that changes of that magnitude need approval from the Ministry of Education.
“So, any school wishing to change the school uniform must first of all write for approval from the ministry. The ministry has to approve, taking everything into consideration and then they can go ahead…”, he said.
“There are consultations that will have to take place, because there are issues, there are financial issues, there are all kinds of other issues…”, he added.
According to Jeffrey, a change in uniform could affect those past students who would have been proud of their school colours over the years.
He said: “…You would have (gone) to school at Happy Hill and when you think about it, Happy Hill has a specific uniform and you would want to boast in years, that this was your uniform and ‘bap’ somebody comes to change it and there are so many past students.
“So, all of these things have to be taken into consideration before but the bottom line is that, there has to be a process, a clear procedural issue and so no school, or PTA (Parent Teachers Association) or whatever can unilaterally just decide, we’re changing the school uniform, it doesn’t work that way,” he remarked.
PS Jeffrey added, “In terms of changing the colour of your sports uniform and so forth, I don’t know, but in terms of changing the uniform per se, I think there was some overtures by the Happy Hill Secondary School to do that and it was stopped as far as I am concerned”.