Guyana: Organisation wants clarity about wearing of Rakhi in school

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Questions have been raised in Guyana about school policies and rules after a child was reportedly told to remove his Rakhi at school by a senior educator. The Ministry of Education has since indicated there is no rule at the level of the Central Ministry, against the wearing of a Rakhi. 

The incident has angered a religious organisation, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, which believes this ancient Hindu practice was belittled. 

It is calling on the ministry to ensure that Guyana’s Ministry of Education’s National School policy reflects the right to practice one’s religion freely as enshrined in the Constitution, and not leave it to individual schools to make such determinations. 

The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha explains that Hindus routinely wear a Raksha sutra (protective thread) on their wrists, the Rakhi being one such that would have been placed on the wrist in a prayerful manner.  

It claims many other adjustments have been made at the Ministry level in relation to school uniform and hairstyles to accommodate culture and religion. 

It states: “To ask a Hindu parent to write for permission for their child to wear the Raksha sutra / rakhi is a discriminatory practice and must be addressed now.” 

The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha is calling on the Minister of Education to ensure that the Ministry‘s National School policy respects the rights of the Hindu community. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education in a statement made it clear that no child can be sent home for any perceived or real breach of any individual school’s hairstyle rule as there is no rule from the Central Ministry regarding hairstyles.  

The rules themselves at individual schools were not changed. Similarly, at the level of the Central Ministry, there is no rule against the wearing of a Rakhi.  

“There is no allegation or at least none has come to the attention of the Ministry that any child was sent home for wearing a Rakhi. The issues are therefore different. The Ministry would have no difficulty instructing that no child is to be sent home for wearing a Rakhi if that were ever to be an issue.” 

The ministry notes the Cabinet of Ministers of Guyana makes policy or changes in policy. Rules were made on these issues by individual schools and have been in place for many years and have been informed by various factors known to individual school populations. Whether those bodies took into consideration Guyana’s diversity and/or the children’s constitutionally guaranteed rights would have to be examined when any revision is being considered.  

It says the matter of what can and cannot be worn in schools will be taken to the cabinet by the Minister of Education for a decision to be made thereat.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand in a Facebook post earlier today said she has seen the issue surrounding the wearing of a Rakhi to a particular school and made it clear the Ministry of Education does not have rules about whether a Rakhi can be worn or not worn, what hairstyles a student can or cannot wear, whether a student can wear a fine bottom pants or a bell bottom pants or an “A” line skirt or straight, “hugging” skirt etc. 

She said schools make their own rules and the ministry encourages schools to be sensible and conscious (both of social underpinnings as well as peoples constitutional rights) as those rules are being made and to revise where necessary.  

She said the ministry encourages the involvement of parents and the student body when rules are being made or revised and asks all to be cognisant of the main reason schools exist: for teaching and learning, always with the paramount consideration of acting in the best interest of the students they accommodate daily.  

Source: Loop News