Mae’s Schools cultural wear fiascoThe issue involving the nine-year-old pupil of Mae’s Schools who was reportedly told he was dressed inappropriately for the institution’s May 25th Culture Day will take centre stage during the 12th Annual National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference, which is slated for July.The letter the school reportedly gave with instructions for the Culture Day observanceThis was according to NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks in a recent interview with Guyana Times.The incident has garnered much public attention in recent days, with many calling on the school to apologise but the matter recently took on a new dimension when the lad’s mother felt disrespected by the school’s response on the issue which, according to her, painted the picture that she was a liar.The NTC Chairman, who had earlier bemoaned the lack of social cohesion regarding the issue, told this newspaper that Guyanese should respect each other, noting that the country has six races with diverse cultures.This publication questioned the official on NTC’s plans to engage the Education and Social Cohesion Ministries given the public outcry that the “inappropriate” comment caused.“The Ministry of Education is already on our agenda and within that slot we will deal with it; we will raise at the highest level,” Fredericks noted.He reiterated that it would be a topic of discussion at the annual event, questioning why Indigenous persons were not being treated equally.“Yes; and I think cultural awareness in some of the institutions is needed. How some are accepted and Indigenous are not accepted, why is it? People need to ask questions,” he noted.“One month we have our celebration, but I don’t know if Mae’s was a part of that,” the NTC Chairman said.Just recently, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock confirmed that the matter was under investigation. In fact, he expressed surprise at the incident, telling media operatives last week that it went against Government’s move to bring social cohesion and national unity among all the many ethnic groups, through various efforts.In the meantime, the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and Red Thread joined with the NTC requesting that the school apologise. At last Thursday’s picketing exercise, the mother of the traumatised pupil said she was “very dissatisfied” with the school’s response.The administration of Mae’s in a statement had said 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.The school also said that the students of the class of the child were to dress as Portuguese and said that the child turned up in Amerindian wear and was told that it may be an issue since he was exposed. His mother, the school stressed, gave him a t-shirt.“At no point was any teacher engaged on this issue either by the child or his mother. The child settled into his classes without incident. There was no crying or other discernible upset displayed by him that warranted the attention of the class teacher, head teacher, or administration of the school then or at any other time throughout the school day. The fact that this student is made the subject of national headlines is regrettable.”This description of events prompted the mother to say that she will not be sending her child back to the school in the new academic year as she was almost brought to the point of tears.“It makes me out to be a liar and I am very disappointed because exactly [what] happened to my son that is what I said and for them to come out and say that; I am very disappointed…it really took a toll on me …I thought about my son in all of this and I’m thinking, how could you?” she stressed.Michael McGarrel of the APA had noted that the statement issued by the school was a waste of time and argued that the administration should have plainly offered an apology for its actions. (Shemuel Fanfair)
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