The Lagos State government has finally granted approval for the use of hijab in secondary schools in the state.
This is this first time the government is taking an affirmative action on a 2016 court judgement which ruled that hijab usage a human rights issue.
It warned that “no student should be discriminated against in any form on the basis of religion.”
Recall that the government set up a panel to review its stand on hijab usage in schools following the controversies that met the refusal of entry to five students of Isolo Senior Secondary School on Wednesday, 18th September, 2018 for wearing hijab to school.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Oluranti Adebule thereafter set up a panel comprising various stakeholders in the state to look into the hijab controversy. The recommendations of committee formed the basis for this new development.
In a circular addressed to principals of schools issued on Tuesday, the government said its committee set up to review the situation had recommended that status quo be maintained so as to avoid contempt of court.
“Since the case on the use of Hijab in Lagos State (schools) is still pending at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, status quo should be maintained to avoid contempt of court, that is, students must be allowed to wear hijabs on school uniforms but same must be short, smart and neat and in the colour of the school uniform (skirt),” it read in part.
A copy of the circular made available to EduCeleb.com also indicated that the government was willing to ensure compliance to the new directive by asking school officials to avoid comments that could jeopardise the law.
“Furthermore, school managements are advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart Hijabs until the final determination of the case by the Supreme Court.”
Students commend government’s new stance on hijab usage
Meanwhile, students under the aegis of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) have commended the state government for finally taking a stance in line with the court ruling.
In an interview with EduCeleb.com, the Lagos State President of the MSSN, Saheed Ashafa said directive would help to stop harassment and victimisation of female Muslim students for wearing hijab.
He recalled that despite the Appeal Court judgement, female Muslim students were punished and denied entrance into classrooms for putting on the hijab.
By issuing the circular, Dr Ashafa said the Lagos State Government has towed the path of honour and deserved to be praised for such.
In his words, “We extol this gesture and the resoluteness of the state government in ensuring that an avoidable strife do not find ways into the peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed in Lagos State.
“We are pleased with this development because the embarrassing way and manner that our members are being victimised, harassed, punished and denied entrance into their classrooms for wearing hijab would stop.
“We have constantly told the state government that while a case on the hijab is awaiting final verdict at the Supreme Court, no teacher has the right to punish female pupils for wearing hijab. The Appeal Court in the case clearly states that wearing hijab by students, whether within or outside the school premises was a fundamental Human Right entrenched in the constitution.
“It is important to notify you that we will not allow further lawlessness and flagrant disregard for rule of law to stay after this circular. The circular would also help to stop the abuse of rights which could have degenerated into crisis or violence that may lead to the disruption of activities in schools in our dear state.
“We commend this intervention aimed at calling teachers, principals and tutor general to order. This circular approving wearing of hijab by students on their school uniform within and outside school premises, will ensure peace and order in our schools and stability in the state’s education system.”
Ashafa subsequently encouraged female Muslim students to be confident, smart and neat while putting on the hijab.
“We hereby call on female muslim students to enjoy their rights without fear of molestation. While exhibiting their rights, they should remain law abiding and be good ambassadors of the religion of peace,” he added.