Monday, 26 December 2011

Chile: the right to wear a traditional custom is more than a mere fact

This month we saw a Chilean Senator introducing legislation that would allow students to wear Indigenous dress to school.
Last November two Mapuches students were not allowed to take part in the photo-shoot schedule in their high school in Collipulli, a local school in the Araucania region, Chile. The pictures are taken as part of the graduation ceremony – photo taken and to be given in the graduation day. The director of the school refused to accept without further explanation the girls to be wearing their traditional Mapuche. The girls informed the Temucuicui community of the circumstances and the ‘lonko’ (a leader from the Mapuche community) Queipul Victor argued that there was "… a clear attitude of discrimination and racism by the director, a situation that we are not willing to accept and less leave unpunished…”

As a result, Senator Alejandro Navarro proposed and so introduced an amendment (Boletín N° 8.073-04) to the legislation on Education that would allow all students to wear Indigenous cloth to school and to its functions. The Senator referred to the second paragraph of Regulation No. 57 of 2002, Ministry of Education, which expressly states: "In any case, the failure to use school uniforms cannot be punished with a ban to enter the educational establishment. " Therefore, he noted that the regulation clearly indicates that educational establishments are not allowed to prohibit assistance for not having school uniform.

The Senator also mentioned the ILO Convention 169 Art 1 and 2 as the reasons why Indigenous peoples should be allowed to wear their traditional clothing customs to school ceremonies.

Senator Navarro proposes to add to Art 11 of Law N ° 20.37O, General Law of Education the following:

"Membership of a student or pupil to native or indigenous community, in no case constitute an impediment to enter and remain in an educational establishments at all levels, the establishment must provide academic and administrative facilities to allow application of both objectives. Moreover, establishments situated especially in those regions, communes and villages where there are  communities of indigenous peoples, shall assist for the integration and participation of students referred to in this subsection, in all activities of the establishment,whether sporting, academic, recreational, extracurricular, or recreational, promoting and safeguarding the respect from the whole educational community to the ancient customs and practices, including the use of their clothes or clothes in the establishment's activities. Furthermore the establishments would set up in their internal regulations, the penalties for transgression of this rule. "

One of the things that I like the most in a graduation day here in the UK is to see some of the parents wearing their traditional clothes and to be honest I never thought this to be a right as such. I mean, some opt to wear Armani or Gucci while some opt to wear jeans! And as the title implies, to wear traditional clothes is more than a right, I can see actually the faces of the families not only being proud for their relatives’ achievement but they wear this beautiful dresses proud of being who they are. I definitely applaud this Chilean proposal.

Source newspaper La Nacion.

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