With schools less than a week away and with a shortage of uniform material on the island, The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training has decided to relax the regulations on the school uniform policy, until September 30.
The announcement was made by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney, yesterday in a statement.
Some parents have reported going into some stores and being told that they cannot get the amount of royal blue or navy blue material they need; or the dark green fabric for Parkinson Secondary School; the turquoise color for the Alexandra School; or various fabrics for other schools (at both the primary and secondary levels. Understandably, this is disappointing for parents, for retailers, and for everyone concerned, including our students who are excited to be properly out-fitted in their school uniforms on the first day of school. I thank you all for your effort to be ready.
Importers of uniform fabric, manufacturers, and retailers of uniforms have reported to me that there have been delays in the delivery of fabric to Barbados. This fabric shortage has slowed the manufacturing of uniforms (because without fabric the required number of uniforms cannot be made); it has depleted the retail stock of uniforms so certain sizes and colours are not available, and it has put the small-business dressmakers and tailors in our communities under last-minute pressure to sew school uniforms for which they cannot get the right cloth to finish by Monday coming.
I am told that several factors in the supply chain have contributed to the delay in uniform fabrics reaching Barbados – among them, the intermittent shutdown of several factories where the fabric is made overseas; slow consolidation of shipments due to transportation challenges between multiple cities; and shipping connections that were held back when a vessel bringing the shipments to Barbados was delayed getting privileges to berth at one of the transit countries in this region where it had to stop before coming to Barbados. All of this is outside of the control of Barbados, the Ministry of Education, of the schools, and of our uniform manufacturers, retailers, tailors, and dressmakers.
With sensitivity to your challenges in this circumstance, I wish to give you some ease. The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training has decided to relax the regulations to our school uniform policy, until September 30th, 2022, after which it will be reviewed.
This means that if your child is unable to wear the full school uniform, new or re-used, from the first day of school on September 19th, he or she will be allowed to dress in a manner appropriate for school in a plain-coloured t-shirt or a plain-coloured polo shirt and a jeans pants. Note that this relaxation is for a limited time until uniform fabrics are available.
Our Chief Education Officer will continue to communicate with principals at the respective schools so that they can work with students, parents, and guardians to do what is necessary and reasonable to accommodate the relaxation in uniform regulations and to facilitate a smooth return to full face-to-face school for all.