ERC says education for national harmony high on agenda

-following Mae’s ethnic wear controversy

In light of recent events concerning a child at the Mae’s Schools, which brought widespread discussion over cultural representation and respect, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has announced that ‘education for the promotion of national harmony’ is high on its list of priorities.

In a release sent out yesterday, the entity related that the programme item, which seeks to promote national harmony, is high on the agenda of its work programme, which is currently being finalized and will soon be launched.

Further to that, the ERC said it will be meeting with those involved in the Mae’s incident to officially commend them on resolving the matter, and to solicit suggestions which can influence the commission’s work to promote harmony within the society.

“While the ERC would have played no part in the process that led to the much desired resolution of this extremely sensitive issue, it would like to commend all those involved for being able to move beyond differences, hurt sentiments and the ensuing tension that arose. This, through the maturity that was demonstrated, must be recognized and augurs well for future conflict resolutions if the need arises,” the release said.

The statement noted that the event involving the Mae’s student highlighted the role of education in helping to prevent a similar situation from recurring, and added that the ERC will “robustly endeavour within the confines of its mandate and through partnerships with relevant stakeholders for its manifestation”.

“The ERC would like to take this opportunity to bring attention to the valuable lessons this incident would have afforded. It once again unambiguously illustrated that our society, despite differences, can find common grounds to unite and represent an issue that impacts our people, in this case a child and what he exemplified. Further, it revealed the urgent need for related education holistically to inculcate a better understanding and appreciation to prevent a recurrence,” the release said.

It was noted that because the commission has only been operable since April 26, following which much time was reportedly dedicated to familiarization and putting procedures in place to hire vital staff which were depleted over the past seven years, the work programme is now being put in place.

On May 25th, Karen Small made a Facebook post relating that her nine-year-old son had not been allowed to enter his school fully dressed in his Indigenous wear and that staff, including the security guard, teachers, and the headmistress had stated that his attire was inappropriate.

The school in its initial response had denied that any staff had been engaged on the matter, and said the student had “settled into his classes without incident.”

However, more than a week later, and after protests, the Mae’s Schools offered “profound apologies” to the student. Additionally, the school’s owner, Stacey French, apologized in person to the parents of the boy, Karen Small and Jason Chacon, at a meeting at the Ministry of Education. A release from the Ministry said that the parents accepted the apology.

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