…as Lagos summons ministry officials
Against the position of some Muslim parents of students of the International School, University of Ibadan (ISI) that their children be allowed to wear hijab in school, the Board of Governors of the 55-year old school yesterday held a meeting in which it was resolved that the agelong dress code of the school be maintained.
The parents led by Abdulrahman Balogun had moved that their wards should wear hijab in the school, stressing that it was their right. But the strange action led to closure of the school on Monday. Classes could not hold likewise on Tuesday as hijab dresses were freely distributed to the students in the school premises, leading to another round of confusion. Miffed by the development, the Board under the leadership of Professor Adeyinka Aderinto resolved after a meeting yesterday that “the dress code as contained in the school rules and regulations of the school be maintained while the school management has been empowered to enforce appropriately.”
The Board therefore appealed to parents to abide by the extant rules of the school to enable the school fulfill its mandate of providing sound education to “our children.” However, the International School Ibadan Alumni Association has advised that the present controversy must be viewed from the lens of principles and governing laws of the school and not through religious perspective.
In a mail sent to the Chairman Board of Governors, Professor Aderinto, President of the Alumni Association, Tive Ekpere maintained that the uniform policy was introduced to disabuse socio-economic inequalities, discourage segregation and minimize distraction on academic activities. He said: “The uniform is unique and is the fabric that has bound ISI culture and tradition till today,” while stressing that the existing policy on school uniform be reviewed and interpreted accordingly.
“The International School Ibadan is a private school and is governed by its own policies, laws and regulations. The International School Ibadan (ISI) is a secular international school established to admit and provide the best possible education for boys and girls from all over the world; irrespective of their ethnicity, creed, race or religion.
“It is a center where children are brought to learn from one another with the aim of finding their common humanity. The uniform policy was introduced to disabuse socio-economic inequalities, discourage segregation and minimize distraction on academic activities.
The uniform is unique and is the fabric that has bound ISI culture and tradition till today. Beyond this, the association wishes to advise that all overt religious activities on the school campus be discouraged henceforth.” Meanwhile, an official of the Lagos State Ministry of Education, who signed a circular announcing the approval of the use of hijab in the state’s public schools, O.A Fakoya, alongside Permanent Secretary and Tutor General in charge of the Education District V1 comprising Ikeja, Oshodi and Mushin, has been summoned to the office of the state’s Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule.
This was as the circular had reportedly thrown the public schools into confusion yesterday as school officials, especially in other districts were unsure of what to believe. While some officials, who spoke to New Telegraph on condition of anonymity, insisted on waiting for direct memos from the Ministry of education, others said they were prepared to comply with the instruction to avoid clashes in their schools. The officials were invited to an emergency meeting earlier scheduled to hold in the office of the Deputy Governor, which was called to clarify the matter before it degenerated.
The circular, which was signed by Fakoya purportedly on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, had linked the directive to the Deputy Governor, directing the heads of public primary and secondary schools in the district to accommodate students who choose to wear hijab pending the determination of the matter before the Supreme Court.
However, the meeting could not hold as the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, who was supposed to be part of the meeting, could not arrive on time before the commencement of the scheduled weekly cabinet meeting. New Telegraph had learnt yesterday that there was no express approval for the circular issued on the matter, but that the panel set up on the matter had recommended tolerance on the part of the school managements but with a caveat that permissible hijabs must be simple and neat, and in the colour of the school uniforms. There was confusion yesterday in Lagos over the news that female Muslim students can now wear hijab if choose to, as part of their schools’ uniforms in class.
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