Calls are being made to amend the Education Act & Regulations, after the Supreme Court on Monday, July 31, ruled that the constitutional rights of a five-year-old girl were not breached in 2018 when she was denied access to the Kensington Primary School, in St Catherine, for having dreadlocks.
Lawyers in the matter disclosed that the Supreme Court had ruled that her constitutional rights were not breached.
The couple’s attorney, Isat Buchanan, insisted that the child’s constitutional rights to freedom of expression, the right to religion, equity, equality before the law, and access to education, among others, were breached.
“It is most unfortunate. It is a sad day, as you can see, for Rastafarians [and] dreadlocks-wearing black people in this country. I respect the decision of the court,” Buchanan said.
The written judgment will be given at a later date, but Buchanan has already indicated that he intends to appeal the court’s ruling. He said the judgment will have implications for the child and her parents.
“The injunction which caused the child to go to the school without being harassed or harmed is now lifted, and the child is at the mercy of the school,” Buchanan said.
Though the court’s written judgment is not yet available, a case of this nature has left persons questioning the extent of their liberation.
Meanwhile, the family has put out a statement, saying that they are now preparing to meet with both the government and the opposition in an aim to prevent further discrimination.
The injunction filed 2 years ago has been lifted, granting the seven-year-old child access to the institution.
The family has since written to the school which is now under new management and is hoping for a response before the new school term begins.
After the ruling, State minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Alando Terrelonge, took to Twitter to vent along with many other Jamaicans who were not pleased with the courts’ ruling.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness entered the conversation on August 2, he said
“Our children must not be discriminated against or deprived of their right to an education on the basis of their hairstyle. This government does not believe that there should be any law that could be interpreted to deny access to a citizen merely on the basis of their hairstyle. We have, as rights sensitive government, always maintained that our children must not be discriminated against, nor deprived of their right to an education because of socio-economic issues, such as inability to afford school fees; or socio-cultural issues such as their hairstyle.”
Adding that the time has come to review and amend the Education Act to reflect a modern and culturally inclusive position that “protects our children from being barred from any educational institution on the basis of wearing locks as an ordinary hairstyle, irrespective of religious reasons.”
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