The Kwara State Government has approved the wearing of the Islamic veil, hijab, by pupils in Christian mission secondary schools.
The rule applies to Christian mission schools that enjoy government funding.
Wearing of hijab in mission schools has in the last one week generated a lot of furore between Muslim stakeholders and authorities of some grant-aided schools in the state.
Accordingly, the state government took preemptive measure by temporarily shutting down ten of such schools to forestall break down of law and order.
The schools are Cherubim and Seraphim College, St. Anthony College, ECWA School, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, CAC Secondary School, St. Barnabas Secondary School, St. John School, St. Williams Secondary School and St. James Secondary School all in Ilorin metropolis.
As a result of the latest development, the state government has also directed the reopening of all the closed schools on March 8th, 2021.
Secretary to the state government (SSG) Prof Mamma S. Jubril in a statement said:
“Sequel to recent developments in our state over the status of the hijaab in public/grant-aided schools, the state government has consulted widely with thought leaders and leaders of both Muslim and Christian communities with a view to clarifying issues and reaching a consensus. The last of such meetings was held on Wednesday February 24, presided by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
“At least 10 schools of interest were earlier shut down to maintain peace and public order as well as prevent mischief makers from taking undue advantage of the development.
“The state government has considered submissions of all major interest groups on the matter. It has also thoroughly considered the education law of Kwara State, the prevailing court judgments and current global trends of multiculturalism in evolving a consultation-based decision that will bring lasting peace and understanding to our communities.
“The government has also paid particular attention to the ‘declaratory’ nature of the subsisting judgments of the Court of Appeal and their purports.
“Consequently, the government hereby acknowledges and approves the right of the Muslim schoolgirl to wear the hijab, and directs the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development to come up with a uniform hijab for all public/ grant-aided schools, which will be the accepted mode of head covering in schools. Any willing schoolgirl with the approved (uniform) hijab shall have the right to wear same in public/grant-aided schools.
“Also, the government affirms the right of every child in public schools to freedom of worship.
“The government hereby directs that the affected 10 schools should reopen to commence classes on Monday 8th March 2021.
“Similarly, the government has carefully noted submissions regarding ownership of grant-aided schools and related issues. While the status of these schools is the subject of judicial determination, this and other related matters will soon be subjected to a technical committee to advise accordingly. The government reassures all members of the public that it will act in good conscience at all times.
“The government asserts that there is no victor or vanquished on the hijaab question. It urges the two faith communities, especially the leaders, opinion moulders and media personalities to act with restraint and great responsibility in their public utterances and actions, and continue to live in peace and harmony with one another.
“The government commends all the thought and religious leaders on both sides for their forbearance, understanding and commitment to peace.”