The rakhi issue at the St Augustine Girls' High School was blown out of proportion in media reports, according to the principal of the school.
The school was put into the national spotlight after Pundit Satyanand Maharaj claimed that a Hindu student was brought before the school and shamed for wearing a rakhi, a symbol of brotherhood love in the Hindu religion.
In a press conference at Education Towers, both Minister of Education Anthony Garcia and the school's principal Linda Dharrie said at no time did she single out a student, nor did she instruct any student to remove their rakhi.
"In no way was the student embarrassed, in no way was the student singled out for special mention and in no way was the student humiliated," said Garcia.
The principal said she made comments about how specific items should be worn as part of the school uniform during an assembly at the school last week.
One of the items mentioned was the rakhi, but Dharrie explained that this was done in response to students taking extra liberties with excessive adornments on their hands' friendship bands and jewellery.
She denied it was a case of religious discrimination.
"It is not a question of the rakhi, per se, it's a question of as the Minister said, and I want to repeat; excessive — be it jewellery or any kind of —adornment to the uniform. Right now what exists is that some students are wearing the rakhi on both hands, some are wearing friendship bands, some are wearing extra earrings, extra chains and bracelets. It's a question of attire," said Dharrie.
"The school rule is the rakhi is to be worn on the same hand as the watch, which all parents in Form One are told during registration," said Dharrie.
President of the Presbyterian School Board Christian Dookhoo said it was not a case of religious discrimination, pointing out that Christian students are also told to conservatively wear items connected to their religion.
He said students wearing necklaces or chains bearing crosses are usually required to wear under their shirts.
Garcia also confirmed that the parents of the girl did not speak to Maharaj as he had claimed in his social media post.
The parents, who were present at the conference but were shielded from questions by the media, nodded in agreement when the Minister made that announcement.
- by Peter Christopher