The Kwara State Government says it will allow the use of hijab by willing Muslim schoolgirls in all categories of public schools in the state.
The State Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Sa’adatu Madibbo Kawu, made this known during a meeting between Muslim and Christian stakeholders in Ijagbo, Oyun local government area, held at the Ministry Headquarters, Ilorin on Monday.
“The policy statement of the Kwara State Government allowing willing Muslim schoolgirl to wear the hijab in all public schools, including grant-aided ones, is binding. This conforms with the judicial pronouncements of the courts of law and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” she said.
She appealed to both Muslim and Christian leaders to allow peace to reign in the State.
Hajia Modibbo-Kawu thereafter directed the School heads of Oyun Baptist High School, Ijagbo to immediately implement the policy statement on the use of approved hijab in public schools.
The Honourable Commissioner warned that anybody trying to sabotage the peaceful coexistence among the people of Kwara State will face the full wrath of the law.
The meeting was attended by the Honourable Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo Kawu; the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Mary Kemi Adeosun; Executive Chairman Teaching Service Commission, Alhaji Taoheed Abubakar Bello; TESCOM Board Members; ANCOPSS President, Alhaji Toyin Abdullahi; NUT Caretaker Chairman, Alhaji Umar Abdullahi.
Also in attendance were the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Ijagbo, Rev. Samuel Ajayi; Rev. Dr. Gbadeyan B. A., President, Ijagbo Youth Association, Mr. Faleye Segun. Also on the Muslim side were Chairman Muslim Stakeholders, Offa &Oyun Local government, Alhaji Abubakar AbdulWasiu; the Secretary, Taofiq Oyetunde; Chairman Kwara State Muslim Stakeholders, Alhaji Isiaka AbdulKareem and Prof. Abubakar Imam Aliagan, among others.
School principals in Kwara State have been warned to desist from imposing the wearing of the hijab (female Muslim headscarf) or beret on any student.
The Kwara State Government handed down the warning via a statement issued on Sunday by the State Teaching Service Commission in Ilorin.
Chairman of the Commission, Mallam Bello Abubakar, had during a meeting on Friday reaffirmed the determination of the state government to promote religious tolerance among teachers and students and enhance peaceful coexistence.
The meeting was held with the aim of resolving the crisis over Hijab which erupted recently at Oyun Baptist Grammar School, Ijagbo, Oyun Local Government Area of Kwara State, according to the spokesman of TESCOM, Peter Amogbonjaye.
“He, thereafter, warned the principals in Oyun axis to abide by the policy of the Kwara State Government and desist from imposing Hijab on any student, instead, it should be made optional,” the statement partly read.
While warning that the present administration would not tolerate religious bigotry, enjoined all to shun religious sentiments and respect the rights of individuals, Bello reminded the gathering that Kwara State is a state of harmony and advised everyone to remain good ambassadors for the coming generation.
The warning came on the heels of fresh controversy on the wearing of hijab in some Christian Schools; Oyun Baptist High School, Ijagbo and St Claire’s Girls Secondary School, Offa in Oyun, and Offa Local Government Area respectively.
Miss Nigeria 2021 Shatu Garko has revealed some of the challenges she faced as a hijab-wearing model.
The 18-year-old emerged 44th Miss Nigeria at a beauty pageant held amid glamour and glitz on December 9, in Lagos.
In an interview with Channels Television, she explained how she started modelling in 2020 and had to convince her father to support her.
“I graduated last year from secondary school. Due to COVID-19 there was no admission and I wasn’t going to school. So, I decided to start modelling. When I started, it wasn’t so good for me because of my hijab.
“It wasn’t too easy to convince my dad, but my mom was supportive. I had to explain everything to him before he finally approved.
“I was worried they won’t pick me because of my hijab. Most pageants wear swimsuits and bikinis and I just applied to Miss Nigeria to try my luck,” she said.
Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has said his administration will be fair and courageous in taking decisions in the overall interest of the state.
He stated this in a state broadcast on Tuesday amid the controversy trailing the ban of hijab in some mission schools in the state.
The school authorities had on February 19 denied the students entry, saying that the use of the headgear is not allowed in line with the doctrine establishing the mission schools, but the students have defied the directives.
In a statement issued on February 26, the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Prof. Mamma Sabah Jibril, said “any willing schoolgirl with the approved (uniform) hijab shall have the right to wear the same in public/grant-aided schools.”
Additionally, the government through its Ministry of Education ordered the closure of 10 schools, where the use of hijab is disputed.
But this didn’t go down well with the school authorities.
When the schools were eventually reopened on March 17, violence erupted in Ilorin as Christians and Muslims clashed in the state capital.
The violence started after Christian officials of Baptist School, Surulere disallowed the girls in Hijab from gaining access into the school.
Reacting to the issue, Governor AbdulRazaq said his administration announced an official policy on February 26 allowing any willing Muslim schoolgirl to wear the hijab in public schools after “several days of consultations, meetings, brainstorming, and dispassionate weighing of policy options.”
“We took that decision in good faith and in the overall interest of all. I swore to an oath to protect every Kwaran. This oath includes looking at the bigger picture and doing everything to prevent a crisis before it occurs,” he said.
“I acknowledge the apprehension from the Christian and Muslim communities. Having held dozens of meetings with various thoughts leaders from both sides in the last four weeks, I am convinced that beneath the tensions and misgivings around the hijaab decision are old wounds that must be healed.
“I assure all Kwarans that we will take genuine steps to address the concerns raised by various faith communities. In doing so, a huge dose of understanding, selflessness, and patriotism will be required. Going forward, we will need leaders from both sides to spread the message of love, accommodation, patience, peace, and mutual respect.
“Notwithstanding their varied positions, I am proud of the level of restraints and statesmanship shown by our religious leaders. I commend them and reassure them that we will always be fair, courageous in taking decisions for sustainable peace, and be willing to listen to their concerns.”
READ FULL STATEMENT HERE:
Text of the broadcast by Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on the hijaab decision on March 23, 2021.
On 26th February, the administration announced an official policy allowing any willing Muslim schoolgirl to wear the hijab in public schools. That announcement followed several days of consultations, meetings, brainstorming, and dispassionate weighing of policy options. We took that decision in good faith and in the overall interest of all. I swore an oath to protect every Kwaran. This oath includes looking at the bigger picture and doing everything to prevent a crisis before it occurs.
I acknowledge the apprehension from the Christian and Muslim communities. Having held dozens of meetings with various thoughts leaders from both sides in the last four weeks, I am convinced that beneath the tensions and misgivings around the hijaab decision are old wounds that must be healed.
I assure all Kwarans that we will take genuine steps to address the concerns raised by various faith communities. In doing so, a huge dose of understanding, selflessness, and patriotism will be required. Going forward, we will need leaders from both sides to spread the message of love, accommodation, patience, peace, and mutual respect.
Notwithstanding their varied positions, I am proud of the level of restraints and statesmanship shown by our religious leaders. I commend them and reassure them that we will always be fair, courageous in taking decisions for sustainable peace and be willing to listen to their concerns. The starting point will be the reconstitution in the coming days of the interfaith committee to further build confidence as well as provide templates to steadily resolve all issues of mutual concerns.
I commend the security agencies for their professionalism and their sticking to strategic patience jointly agreed upon. This has helped to prevent the loss of lives and properties while keeping crisis merchants in check. I urge parents to speak to their wards to stay away from trouble. Any attempt to take advantage of the situation to foment trouble will be met with maximum punishment prescribed by the law.
Finally, my profound appeal goes to all our leaders to prioritise communal peace and human brotherhood. We need to join hands to build a generation of future leaders who acknowledge and respect one another’s differences. This is necessary to build a community of patriots and partners for a greater Kwara.
Following the clash over the wearing of hijab in some schools in Ilorin, the Kwara State Government has directed principals, teachers, and staff of ten schools recently shut down over the matter to report at their respective schools tomorrow.
In a statement Thursday, the government explained that the resumption became necessary in order to prepare the final year students for their external examinations.
The government warned that any staff that fails to report to duty will face the full wrath of the law as it will not condone any act of insubordination.
The Kwara State Government has announced the reopening of the 10 schools shut last month over the use of hijab by Muslim female students.
This was disclosed in a statement signed on Tuesday by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Kemi Adeosun, on Tuesday night
She said the government is convinced that its policy to “allow willing Muslim schoolgirls to wear their hijab in public schools will lead to sustainable peace and communal harmony anchored on mutual respect and understanding.”
“This path to mutual respect, understanding, and peace with regards to hijaab had long been adopted in all of the northern Nigeria and many states in the Southwest such as Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo States.
“As the students resume normal classes, the government took special notice of the plight of those of them preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and hereby directs affected schools to hold at least two-hour extra lesson for all the intending candidates after school hours daily,” the statement read in part.
The Permanent Secretary added that the government will provide light lunch for the students until the beginning of their exams while teachers allotted for the extra coaching will get stipends for their efforts.
“This is to bring the students up to speed ahead of the impending external examination.
The closure of the schools was necessary to forestall security breaches which may affect lives and properties,” the statement added.
She added that the government sincerely commends the Christian and Muslim leaders for their understandings and their efforts to build peace within their respective communities in the past weeks.
The government also warned school principals and teachers in the affected schools to take special note of the policy.
“There will be zero tolerance for violations of anyone’s fundamental human rights under their watch,” Adeosun said.
The hijab controversy started over three weeks ago when officials of Saint Anthony Secondary School prevented Muslim female students from gaining entrance to the school claiming that it is a missionary school.
Several meetings were held between Muslim and Christian leaders to resolve the issue with the government temporarily closing down the ten schools until the reopening on Wednesday morning.
The ownership of the ten schools is still pending in the Supreme Court as both the High Court and Appeal Court affirmed the state government as the owner.
The Christians angered by the situation said the government should wait for the outcome of the judgement of the Supreme Court before fully taking over the schools.
The Kwara state government has taken over all the missionary schools owned by Christian and Muslims since 1974.
The Kwara State Government has approved the right for Muslim female students to wear hijab in schools.
The approval comes after some students were prevented from entering the school premises for wearing the hijab.
In a statement by the Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Prof. Mamma Sabah Jibril, says “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 the same in public/grant-aided schools”.
Read Full Statement Below:
Position of Kwara State Government on the Hijaab Question in Public Schools
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 His Excellency 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 the 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.
Prof Mamma Sabah Jibril Secretary to the Kwara State Government February 25, 2021
There was tension in some parts of Kwara State over the decision by authorities of some mission schools to stop students with head covering known as hijab from entering the school premises.
Channels Television correspondent reported that the students were stopped at the gate of the school on Friday morning over the controversial matter which has been on for a few years.
The school authorities said that the use of the headgear is not allowed in line with the doctrine establishing the mission schools, but the students have defied the directives.
Meanwhile, security operatives in the state say efforts are currently ongoing to douse the tension as a meeting has been summoned between operators of mission schools in the state and religious organisation.
While a staff lamented how they were chased out, a parent also bemoaned how his daughter was injured during an attempt to enter the school.
The security personnel was on the ground to maintain peace and order to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
Explaining the reasons behind the closure, the President of the Baptist Conference in the state, Victor Dada said the school was shut to prevent forceful entrance of girls in hijab as the rules of the school did not allow such dressing.
The Muslims on their part during a press conference said it has a court judgement in its favour allowing the usage of hijab in public schools across the state wondering why their wards are being turned back.
The spokesperson of the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, pleaded with both sides to maintain peace as a committee headed by the state deputy governor has been set up to find a lasting solution to the crisis of hijab usage in schools.
In order to prevent the escalation of the crisis, the government has shut down ten Christian named secondary schools in the state and a committee is expected to come out with lasting solutions.
Supermodel Halima Aden was the highlight of a “modest” fashion show held in London on the weekend.
Aden, the first supermodel in a hijab who has walked the catwalk in New York and Milan fashion weeks in the head covering, has been billed as one of the top fashion finds of the year.
Seven designers from Oman, Morocco, Britain, and Indonesia showcased their collection, with an eye on the lucrative “modest” wear – fashionable clothes that cover most of the body.
“The collection that we have presented at the Modest Fashion Show is a collection of Moroccan kaftans which are in fashion, relevant to this modern age, relevant to the new trends in attendance. I worked with transparent fabrics and it was all handmade,” said Moroccan designer, Meryem Boussikouk.
A former refugee, Aden made headlines as the first hijab- and burkini-sporting contestant to take part in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. The bold move catapulted her career to new heights involving many “firsts”, including being the first hijabi signed by a major modelling agency.
Aden said her Islamic faith was compatible with being a fashion model.
“Muslim women love fashion. If you go to the streets of Dubai, it would not be uncommon to see a Chanel bag associated with a hijab. So it’s just a matter of now incorporating Muslim women on the catwalks,” said the 20-year-old supermodel.
Aden, born in Kakuma, a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya, came to the United States at age 7 with her family, initially settling in St. Louis.
She said she hasn’t forgotten her roots.
“I always talk about my upbringing and of course, it was difficult. But now I am at a position where I am privileged enough to work with UNICEF and try to bring change to kids who have experienced some of the things that I have,” she said.
Among the guests was Mariah Idrissi who became the first model to a model for clothing brand H&M. She said models in hijab sent out a positive message about Muslims like herself.
“I think it’s so powerful because through entertainment, through fashion, these are really subtle ways of obviously promoting, not just the fashion side but people as well, so whoever has these misinterpretations of what Islam represents, if there are role models who are out there, who happen to wear hijab, it just makes things a lot easier for us,” said Idrissi.
Members of the audience also praised the show.
In the past two years, the hijab has gone mainstream with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.
Germany’s lower house of parliament agreed to a draft law on Thursday which introduced a raft of security measures including a partial ban on civil servants, judges and soldiers in Germany from wearing full-face veils at work.
The move comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel called in December for a ban on full-face Muslim veils “wherever legally possible”.
There are five months to go before a federal election, and her conservatives lost some support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany during the migrant crisis.
More than a million migrants, many of them Muslims from the Middle East, have arrived in Germany over the last two years, and concerns about integration are widespread.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the parliament deputies that the draft law is to make an important contribution to clear communication of values and the limits of tolerance to other cultures.
“The draft law, of course, complies with all the requirements of the Federal Constitutional Court’s judgement, but further strengthens the tasks,” he told the German parliament on Thursday.
De Maiziere also underlined that the new draft law would pave the way for a modern police IT infrastructure.
“The new system makes it possible to gather and merge people- and event-related data, and to better understand connections. Which is better for our security, more effective for the police, and at the same time it does not mean less data-protection,” he said.
In February, the southern state of Bavaria, ruled by the Christian Social Union – the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservatives – said it would ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations.
Pope Francis has called for peaceful coexistence among Nigerians, particularly residents of Osun State, irrespective of the socio-cultural and religious beliefs.
The Pope made the appeal during a visit of the Roman Catholic Church to Governor Rauf Aregbesola at the Government House in Osogbo, the state capital.
The Catholic Pontif, who was represented by Most Reverend Augustine Kassujja, said that dialogue instead of violence should be ensued in resolving issues of disagreement between people of diverse culture, tradition, religion and beliefs.
While welcoming the Catholic leadership to the state, the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, expressed the commitment of the state government to working with all religious representations in promoting peaceful coexistence in the state.
He added that the virtues of tolerance, compassion, love and accommodation must be imbibed by adherents of different religions.
Some students of Baptist High School, Adeeke, Iwo town in Osun State, caused a stir among their colleagues as they appeared in school in choir robes and other church garments.
This is a fallout of the decision by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Osun State chapter to allow the Christian students exercise their fundamental human rights following the judgement of the Osun State High Court upholding the use of hijab for willing female students across public schools in the state.
Channels Television correspondent who visited the school observed that the students came late to the school around 8:35AM and headed to their various classes as their colleagues hailed their courage.
Many female Muslim students of the school also wore hijab on their uniforms and some members of the Christian Association of Nigeria were in the school to monitor the reaction of the teachers to their students’ mode of dressing.
No student was sent out of the class for appearing in different clothes as all the students, irrespective of their chosen uniforms sat attentively as the teachers did their job.
The Principal of Baptist High school, Iwo Osun State, Omotayo Arowolo, refused to grant an interview, but noted that there was no crisis in the school and the teachers were on duty teaching the students as usual without distraction.