All children in a school should be treated, not just a particular group

Dear Editor,

On November 15, 2012, Muslims celebrated their New Year and many people are not aware of that.  Jadid may not be as well known as other Muslim holidays such as the Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, but it is greeted with great hope and optimism. Editor, we are living in a multicultural society and I must admit I am always interested in and admire the efforts of the various religions to keep up their traditions. There is a lot to be learnt, and schools help a lot but they will not teach you everything.

On November 15, I went to collect my daughter from an East Bank Essequibo primary school (name supplied) at lunch time (I was late) and she was not in her class. I was directed to visit a classroom upstairs (Grade Six B) by one of the many parents I see there whenever I go. Upon entering, I saw a lot of children, some of them wearing Muslim clothing all sitting and eating food and drink in the class, whilst the majority of the children were in the compound playing.

I got concerned and enquired from one of the parents who said that because of the Muslim New Year the Muslim children attending the school were being giving a treat. Right away I got angry and started to ask questions, and I learnt the following:

A) The head teacher who was nowhere to be found had asked some Muslim parents to donate food, drinks, cakes or whatever they could for the Muslim children of the school for the Islamic New Year.

B) She tried to get a half day for the school so that the non-Muslim children could go home and the Muslim children could be treated.

C) Children were asked to wear their Muslim clothes for the afternoon session (some believed that was the only way for them to be treated) and I see a few who did that (more than one feeding session).

Editor, when it’s a Hindu holiday almost all the children in any school take part in celebrating; likewise if it’s a Christian or Muslim holiday. My five-year-old daughter could not understand why they were only treating some children and not all. These are primary school children and one would not have to assume what the children would think of those who got fêted or what they will say to them when they go to play or vice versa. I told a few people about this (some of them are Muslims) and they all expressed disgust at what took place.

Editor, I would like to know if the Ministry of Education is aware of this and why they allow it.
Look at where we are today in Guyana (culturally and racially) and I would have expected better from a head teacher. I am asking that the head teacher write an apology to all the parents of the school. I would have been happy if all of the children of the school were educated about the Islamic New Year and how that comes about.

Yours faithfully,
Sahadeo Bates           

Editor’s note
We sent a copy of this letter to the Region 3 Deputy Regional Education Officer Ms Douglas (her superior  was on leave) for any comment she might have wished to make and received no response. We then sent it to Regional Education Officer Ms Marlyn Jones Donaghue on her return from leave, and have likewise received no response.

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