Herald:– PARAMARIBO–A principal of a secondary school in Henar, a village in western district Nickerie, has been placed on administrative leave for shaving the eyebrows off a student last week.
The veteran teacher has been informed by the Ministry of Education that she is not to enter the school premises until further notice. Disciplinary action may be taken, according to reports.
The incident that has prompted raised eyebrows as well as praise for the principal, happened on Tuesday.
The principal explained to journalists that she shaved off the 12-year-old girl’s facial hair because she repeatedly violated school rules.
She said that when she noticed a few days prior that the girl had shaved lines in her eyebrows, she told her that this was forbidden and that the lines had to be filled in with eyeliner by the next day.
When the girl did not do what she was told and instead even lied to another teacher that she had been given permission by the principal, the principal got angry.
The principal was briefly taken into custody on Thursday; district police commander Ulrich Tjin Liep Shie reported that she was interrogated and then sent home.
The girl had meanwhile taken to social media; a video that shows her crying, with her eyebrows all shoddy as she speaks of the ordeal, soon started to make the rounds.
The matter was then picked up by the brash parliamentarian Rashied Doekhie (NDP), who called the principal’s actions barbarism. “I have experienced these types of things in my youth, but I thought that we left the fifties in the past century,” he told journalists. He demanded the woman be fired.
The matter also got attention from Minister of Education Lilian Ferrier, who on Friday ordered the principal’s suspension. The formal letter in which she was informed of the decision, accused her of causing the girl grievous bodily harm.
The principal, who said that “everybody” knows she has been a “good teacher for over 30 years” has said that she feels abandoned by the ministry. She said that the matter has been blown out of proportion.
She admitted that she was wrong in using a razor blade to shave off the student’s eyebrows but insisted that the girl knew the rules and still decided on her own to violate them. The principal said that it was when the girl lied to the other teacher that she had been given permission that she got incensed.
“They are wiping the floor with me now and I have not been given the opportunity to defend myself. They cannot let me hang for something as trivial as this. They did not even consider my usual relationship with my students and how they think of me. The way they make it appear is like I abused this child. And now, in my last years as a teacher, they have police pick me up from the school like I am a criminal. If you don’t have political backing, you’re on your own and even a dog is better off than you are. But they will not get me down. Justice will prevail,” the principal said.
The incident has ignited heated discussions on social media, with some people praising the principal’s actions and pointing out that “young people should learn that rules are rules.” Others pointed out though that shaving lines in eyebrows is a popular trend amongst young people and that the principal has no right to stand in the way of this with the school’s archaic rules.