Coming to the fore earlier this week was the issue of a schoolgirl claiming she was being discriminated against by school management because of her hairstyle. The student of St. Stephen’s College claims she was repeatedly warned by the Principal about her various hairstyles, which included Bantu knots, twists and cornrows. The girl’s mother made a formal complaint to the Ministry of Education.

Despite everything, we have to commend the manner in which the mother decided to take up her grievances. More often than not we see parents barging into a school compound to confront teachers, students or the Principal when they feel their child has been slighted. When an adult carries about themselves in such a manner, what is left to the child to do? Kudos to you, ma’am, for taking the dignified road.

Now, to the issue at hand. A school has rules, like every other place that exudes any sort of professionalism or order. So stick to the rules, they are in no way barbarian. A school has a uniform, adhere to it. They have guidelines for hairstyles and adornments, respect them. These young, impressionable minds are being molded for the future.

The school environment, rules and all are intended to create responsible, respectful adults. One may draw the reference of the United States – a highly progressive society that doesn’t require students to wear uniforms. But we cannot one half a dozen of this and six of the other. It’s either we have rules, or we don’t. There is no middle ground. We immediately remember the hijab issue that divided opinion many months ago.

And just like we said then, we say again – schools have rules. Rules that are meant to be respected. When you enter a lounge or a club that has a strict dress code, does anyone complain? What about the police, fire or regiment aspirants who are required to sport specific haircuts? Would you lead a charge to change these rules or do we adhere to them?

Poor was the response from the Minister in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Lovell Francis. He reportedly said he saw nothing wrong with the girl’s hairstyle. Mr. Minister, what is the point of you holding office if you decide to make a public comment well before the Ministerial report on the matter is handed down?

Highly unbecoming of a Minister of Government. It is a direct slap to the face of the Principal, and opens the doors to those so inclined to rebel against what they consider to be unwarranted, unfair or inconvenient school rules.