School must resolve headgear matter - dept

2013-01-23 11:53
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Cape Town - A Western Cape school has been given urgent notice to meet with the parents of two pupils who were kicked out of the school because of their religious attire.

Sakeenah Dramat, 16, and her brother Bilaal, 13, started at Eben Dönges high school last Wednesday, where teachers apparently asked them during the course of the day to remove their headscarf and fez respectively, Die Burger reported.

The siblings' mother, Nabila, said that during an interview at the school last year, they were told that the children could wear their headgear, provided that it was in school colours.

“Our district office has given the principal notice that he must meet the parents of the learners concerned as a matter of urgency and resolve the issue,” the provincial education department’s Paddy Attwell told News24.

Attwell said the department “believes that it is a simple matter to address learners’ religious beliefs by adjusting dress codes accordingly”.

The school’s principal, Wilfred Taylor, refused to comment on the matter and referred all questions to Attwell.

National guidelines on school uniforms say: “A school uniform policy or dress code should take into account religious and cultural diversity within the community served by the school.

“Measures should be included to accommodate learners whose religious beliefs are compromised by a uniform requirement.”

It further states: “If wearing a particular attire, such as yarmulkes and headscarves, is part of the religious practice of learners or an obligation, schools should not, in terms of the Constitution, prohibit the wearing of such items.”

The children’s mother, Nabila, told Die Burger they had been left “degraded and traumatised” and that they had laid a complaint at the SA Human Rights Commission.

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