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Ministry of Education says hair length not a reason for school ban

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Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2022. 10:34 am CST.

Photo Credit: LOVE FM

By Aaron Humes: Subject to the school authorities’ right to impose codes of conduct and general rules and guidelines for administration, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MoECST) has said, “Students cannot be removed from or denied admission to school because of the length of their hair.”

Thus, it is of “concern and dismay” to the Ministry that students are so being denied after news reports surfaced of several boys being kicked out of Bishop Martin High School in Orange Walk Town on Tuesday.

The Ministry also cites the Preamble to the Constitution and the right to equal protection for all, including children, regardless of their social status, and that “а јuѕt ѕуѕtеm ѕhоuld bе еnѕurеd tо рrоvіdе fоr еduсаtіоn аnd hеаlth оn thе bаѕіѕ оf еquаlіtу.” All, including children, it added, are afforded the right to freedom of expression, conscience, and the right to be protected from discrimination.

It concludes, “Students have been out of the classroom long enough. It is time for them to begin a new academic year which will be rich with positive learning and life experiences for them all. This ministry remains undeterred in its commitment to education. We call on all our partners to continue to work with the ministry to build a more equitable, accessible, and inclusive education system, through which all students are guaranteed the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills to build a better life for themselves and contribute to Belize’s national development.”

As cited by LOVE FM, the Bishop Martin policy expressly states that boys “must keep their hair short” and are not allowed to grow beards or mustaches, though as the news report points out, the length of hair defined as “short” is not fully defined, nor is it justified or approved by the Ministry.

School principal Angel Leiva refused an interview except to say the boys had been given a week’s warning; the school’s board chairman said they would “look into the matter” but did not appear inclined to change the policy.

 

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