Education Minister, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the adherence to school rules is important, in light of the “unfortunate and regrettable” situation that unfolded at the 2023 Graduation Ceremony of Trinity College, Moka.
A widely circulated Facebook post on Tuesday, stated that a group of students were not allowed to enter the grad through the front entrance along with their fellow graduates because of their cornrow hairstyles.
In a post to her social media page on Wednesday, she said: “Having had the benefit of perusing reports from various perspectives on the matter, it is clear that regardless of where blame may or may not be apportioned, the graduating students of Trinity College, and in particular a group of young men, had a negative experience on a day which would have been anticipated and planned for as a highlight of their Secondary School experience.”
She said, “From the accounts received, the rules of the school relevant to the required dress code for the Graduation Ceremony were reiterated to both students and parents. Therefore, it seems clear that those who did not conform were, or should have been aware of their breach.”
However, she said, “the question of the suitability of the Graduation Ceremony as a forum to enforce the rules of a school, from which students were actively graduating, is a valid one.
Regardless of one’s emotional and visceral response to this issue, it is a fact that societal order depends on rule-keeping, and that is a critical facet of the education schools are meant to impart.”
Gadsby-Dolly added, “No matter how non-conformist one’s outlook, we all follow some rule or the other- for example, driving on the authorized side of the road. Therefore, the practice of adherence to school rules is important, and where there are divergent views, dialogue, rather than open confrontation, should be encouraged; especially in a school setting.”
The Education Minister said another critical conversation arises out of these circumstances, which speaks to the standardization of the rules and removal of subjectivity which surrounds school hairstyles, especially for male students.
“The time for this conversation in Trinidad and Tobago has come, and decisions will be taken for implementation in the upcoming Academic Year, based on the Ministry of Education’s discussions with our valued stakeholders.”