No natural hair girls - some students barred from cosmetology course
Principal of the Greater Portmore High School in St Catherine, Ricardo Ross, has informed THE STAR that he will be working to remove what he calls a discriminatory policy at the school, which bars natural hair and dreadlocked students from doing the cosmetology course there.
This comes as an excerpt from the school's skills handbook has been circulating online, sparking outrage.
The excerpt reads: "Students with the following will not be allowed to do the [cosmetology] course as they will pose a challenge to the students: Sister locks, natural hair (unperm hair), active acne, sensitive skin, eczema."
Social commentator and women's rights activist Glenda Simms was astonished that such a policy exists in 2017.
"How can they be allowed to have that policy like that? We were born with Afrocentric hair. We have a right to have it for the rest of our lives if we want to. This makes young Jamaican women change everything about themselves to be considered beautiful, so they continue to bleach out the black skin, straighten out every root of their hair, and stretch every part of their bodies to look like somebody else," Simms lamented.
Ross, who has been principal for two years, explained that the policy has been in place for 10 years, but was just brought to his attention last Thursday by a concerned parent, whose daughter wanted to do the course.
Posed a challenge
He said he spoke with the relevant persons in the department.
He said a teacher explained that the courses are done through the HEART Trust/NTA, and for examination purposes, students are placed into groups where each student would have to process someone's hair, and then in turn have their hair processed for grading. So 'natural hair' students posed a challenge for other students.
As it relates to active acne, eczema, and sensitive skin, Ross said the teacher explained that those stipulations are based on HEART's requirements.
Students will not be assessed and would end up failing the course if examiners see any active acne.
Ross said the issue would be rectified in short order. He said one of the likely solutions is that students with natural hair would be asked to source someone who is willing to have their hair processed so that the exams can be administered.