Imhotep Tafari Diego is duly registered as a student at Stann Creek Ecumenical High School in Dangriga. Nevertheless, this 13-year-old dreadlocked youth who has never had his hair cut has been prevented from enjoying his right to an education by the principal of the school.
Every morning Imhotep does his chores and then he joins his schoolmates from the neighborhood and they walk to school. And each and every morning, the principal of Ecumenical High School makes it her personal duty to remove Imhotep from his class. This illegal state of affairs has been going on for 3 weeks now, since the beginning of the school year.
The principal of Ecumenical High School has been informed by the Ministry of Education, as well as by a human rights lawyer and former ombudsperson, that her actions (the principal’s) violate Imhotep’s constitutional right to an education, the right to his cultural and spiritual beliefs; and furthermore, the Ministry of Education advised the principal and Board of Governors of Ecumenical that the very rules cited by the school to keep Imhotep out of school were not legitimate.
The school therefore has been operating on the personal feelings of the principal of Ecumenical High School. What is also rather disheartening is the lack of support that Imhotep’s teachers have shown him. Not one of his teachers has volunteered to provide Imhotep with the classwork he has been missing through no fault of his own.
One teacher unrelated to this issue has volunteered to tutor Imhotep in math one hour a day five days a week. Of course we give thanks for this solidarity and kindness to a child. It’s impossible to believe that the rest of teachers just stand aside and watch Imhotep suffer. Every day that Imhotep is denied his right to an education it’s as if he’s being eaten alive by the monster of bigotry and discrimination.
I call on the duty bearers, MOE and the GOB, to do more to protect the rights of our children. GOB is the final guarantor of our rights. They must do more to protect our children from the harmful arbitrary disregard for our Constitution.
Please put Imhotep back in the classroom where he belongs.
Equal Rights, Justice and Peace
Ajani Tafari (father of Imhotep)