Little Flower English Medium School in Paldi forced a girl to stay away from class on Tuesday for covering her head with a scarf. This comes almost within a fortnight of the GLS Education Trust-run M K Higher Secondary School putting all Muslim students in one division of class IX on the opening day of the new session.
“I wear scarf as I am a follower of Islam. But the school is not allowing it, claiming it to be a burqa. They had given me time to think and decide whether I should wear the scarf. On Tuesday, the deadline got over and when I went to school wearing the scarf, I was not allowed to enter the class and forced to sit in the teachers’ staff room instead. They also called my parents to school,” said the girl, a student of class IX (identity withheld).
“I always used to wear a scarf and many Muslim girls also started wearing scarf after seeing me. But when the school authorities asked them not to wear it, they stopped. Only I continued,” she added.
The school authorities, however, had a different take on the issue. “We respect all religions as we have students from all religions studying in our school. But, at the same time, every institute has rules and regulations which should be respected. Students should come to school in full uniform. They have to abide by the school’s rules and regulations. We have even mentioned this in our school calendar book and parents have agreed by signing it,” said Yvonne Shah, the principal of Little Flower English Medium School.
“We have just asked the girl not to wear burqa to school and that she should come in uniform. We have also informed her father about this. We have also told her to wear burqa till she enters the school and wear it again once classes get over,” she added. However, the girl maintained that it was a hijab—a head scarf—not a burqa.
Shah further stated that while schools were in favour of uniformity and equality, the girl would be visibly separated from the rest of the class because of her burqa. “If we allow her, we will have to allow everybody,” she pointed out.
“I have not received any such complaint either from the school or from any parent,” said R I Patel, the district education officer for Ahmedabad.