Education authorities in Barbados said on Wednesday they have decided to relax school uniform regulations until the end of the month because of shortages caused by supply chain delays.
Minister of Education, Technological & Vocational Training, Kay McConney said this was in response from parents going into retail stores and being told that they cannot get uniform fabric or tailored school uniforms.
“With sensitivity to your challenges in this circumstance, I wish to give some ease,” the minister said in a video news release. “The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training has decided to relax the regulations to our school uniform policy, until September 30, 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 19, 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.”
McConney said importers of uniform fabric, as well as manufacturers and retailers of uniforms have reported to her that there have been delays in deliveries to the island.
“This fabric shortage has slowed the manufacturing of uniforms (because without fabric the required number of uniforms cannot be made),” she said. “
It has depleted 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.”
The minister added that several factors in the supply chain have contributed to the delay in uniform fabrics reaching Barbados.
She said: “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.”
McConney said though the development was disappointing for everyone concerned, ministry officials will work with principals, students, parents, and guardians to accommodate the relaxation in uniform regulations and to facilitate a smooth return to full face-to-face school for all next Monday.