Govt investigating Mae’s cultural day incident – Minister
The incident involving a nine-year-old student at Mae’s Schools being prevented from attending class in full traditional Amerindian wear during a Culture Day activity has received the attention of Government, which is now investigating.Indigenous People’s Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock has expressed surprise at the incident, telling media operatives at the sidelines of a meeting at Parliament on Wednesday that it goes against what the Government is trying to do, and that is to bring social cohesion and national unity among all the many ethnics groups, through various efforts.“It is something I would not have expected since we are embarking upon social cohesion and unifying of the country. We are a multiethnic, multiracial community and we should be more understanding and respectful for the citizens of the country… however we have the relevant authorities addressing this as I speak,” he added.Nevertheless, he said Government is very concerned about the incident and as such has moved towards trying to get to the bottom of the issue by investigating what took place. Allicock said while his Ministry will be integrally involved in the entire investigation, the team will be led by someone from the Education Ministry which has direct responsibility over all schools.Minister within the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe has also commented on the issue, stating that the school owes the child and his parents an apology.“I think they should have thought it through and viewed it [attire] as his culture and explained its significance to the other students who may not have understood. They should have taken the opportunity to teach the children about the Indigenous culture,” she said.The National Toshaos Council (NTC) on Tuesday joined with the Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) and Red Thread in criticising the actions taken by the administration of the private institution.The concerned organisations and a number of persons took part in a picket exercise outside the school, after the mother of the primary school child vented her frustrations on social media after the private institution deemed the boy’s Indigenous outfit “inappropriate”.NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks during the picketing exercise said Indigenous people respect other races and expressed total disgust at the entire episode. In the same vein, he questioned if Government was truly serious about advancing social cohesion.The school’s administration in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon offered an alternative account of the events of May 25, 2018 – Culture Day – saying that all students were briefed on the activity, noting that no clothing that exposed them was allowed.“All children were told that plain T-shirts and tights/shorts should be worn under clothes that would otherwise expose them,” the school highlighted.While the school has been refusing to take responsibility for their action, a letter to parents on Culture Day, contradicts the school’s position, which stated, “Pupils will be allowed to dress in their cultural wear, depicting an ethnic group of their choice on Friday, May 2015, 2018.”The letter signed by Director of Primary, Soneia Glasgow has been circulating on social media.