Mother feels disrespected by issued statement
Mae’s Schools cultural wear fiasco– says son will remain in school until end of termThe mother of a nine-year-old pupil of Mae’s Schools, who was reportedly told he was dressed inappropriately on the eve of Guyana’s 52nd Independence Anniversary, feels disrespected by the school’s response on the issue which painted the picture that her son is a liar.At the protest line on Thursday, she related “I am very dissatisfied with the response from the school. It makes me out to be a liar and I am very disappointed because exactly what happened to my son is what I said and for them to come out and say that; I am very disappointed… it really took a toll on me because I didn’t expect, I mean yes I know that they probably would not want to face the truth but like somehow I thought about my son in all of this and I’m thinking how could you?”The woman while explaining the situation was almost brought to tears. In response to a question posed by Guyana Times, Small said she will not be sending her child back to the school in the new academic year.According to her, the child requested to write his end of term examinations, despite the grave act of humiliation and disrespect the school demonstrated not only against him, but to all people of his ethnicity.She related that she had no option but to send him, since he was trained to stand up for what he believes in and by not sending him to school, it will look as if he did something wrong by displaying his cultural wear.Mae’s Schools came under attack by activists following the parent’s claim that her child’s Culture Day outfit was deemed “inappropriate” by teachers at the school when the activity was held on May 25, 2018.The little boy dressed in his cultural wear which spurred the confusionProtest action was speedily taken by the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) and Red Thread to criticise the actions taken by the administration of the private institution as they implored management to issue an apology.The concerned organisations and a number of persons took part in a picket exercise on Thursday outside the school, which was a follow-up of the activity which began on Tuesday, to secure an apology, not only to the child who was disrespected, but to other Amerindians for dishonouring their culture.Natasha Smith, a supporter of the exercise held on Thursday noted, “I think that Mae’s is very disrespectful to Indigenous people. They refuse to apologise to (the child) and the entire race of Indigenous peoples in Guyana and I think that the statement that was released was concocted over a few days and we do not accept it. It does not contain an apology. We will continue our protest until they realise that they discriminated against us and they apologise for that”.Smith asserted that the school needs to change their policies as it relates to culture and attire and be more respectful.Meanwhile, Michael McGarrel of the APA believes that the statement issued by the school was a waste of time and argued that the administration should have plainly offered an apology for their actionsA section of the protesters.He said though they might be small in numbers, he believes that they ought to be treated with the same amount of respect and dignity.NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks during the picketing exercise on Tuesday said Indigenous people respect other races and expressed total disgust for the entire episode. In the same vein, he questioned if Government was truly serious about advancing social cohesion.“The NTC condemns such an act. With something like this happening here, I am not seeing what the Government is saying about social cohesion. Is this social cohesion for a big school like Mae’s to do something like this? From since then to now, no one is coming out and saying let us come out and make a public apology to the family,” Fredericks expressed.On the other hand, the school which found itself in some hot water sought to quiet the group by issuing a statement which did no good. The statement, among other things noted that “All children were told that plain T-shirts and tights/shorts should be worn under clothes that would otherwise expose them” and that “The students of the class of the child who has unfortunately become the subject of this story were to dress as Portuguese”.The child’s mother however, contended that the children were told to wear an outfit of their choice to depict any of the diverse cultures and even had proof of this.Meanwhile, 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. He noted that an investigation into the matter will be conducted.