Jeppe Girls' High to review hijab policy - report

2018-10-27 22:18

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Jeppe Girls' High School in Johannesburg, Gauteng is reportedly set to review its hijab policy.

The school made headlines for preventing when it prevented a group of pupils from wearing hijabs with their school uniforms.

This comes after seven Muslim families represented by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer threatened to take the Department of Education as well as the school to court for prohibiting learners from wearing their headscarves, the Saturday Star reported.

Disciplinary proceedings against the Muslim pupils were postponed indefinitely after the law firm's intervention.

The law firm's head of pro bono, Jacquie Cassette, told Saturday Star that the Johannesburg school's rules amounted to "othering" and has since written to the school governing body to fully withdraw disciplinary proceedings.

READ: Legal action over hijab on hold, for now - lawyer for 7 Jeppe girls

"All educators, parents and learners will be invited to participate in the consultative process and a task team will be set up. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will be involved in reviewing any proposed amended code. They have also supplied a management plan for the process," Cassette told the Saturday Star.

At issue is a complaint from seven Muslim pupils at the school, who say they are being discriminated against in the school's code of conduct, News24 reported

While Muslim pupils are allowed to wear hijab to school, they have a separate school uniform from the one worn by other pupils. 

Muslim girls are allowed to wear a black head scarf and cloak but these do not indicate that they represent the school or allow them to display their achievements in the way that their blazers do.

Disciplinary hearings

The girls want to be able to wear their uniforms, along with head scarves and black pants, for instance, or another combination of the uniform that would allow them to show that they represent the school while wearing hijab.

The school instituted disciplinary action against the girls when they wore their version of the uniform without permission.

However, the disciplinary hearing were put on hold after the department intervened.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department launched an investigation into the issue.

He said the disciplinary hearings have been postponed pending a meeting between the department and the SGB after the school recess.

"We must also emphasise that the SGB and parent body agreed in principle to amend the code of conduct not to be in contravention with the Constitution," he said.

'Procedurally unfair'

Cassette earlier told News24 that a negotiated process was preferable.

"We've tried to make it clear to them in response to the threatened disciplinary hearings that we remain of the view that it would be unlawful to proceed with disciplinary charges."

She said the disciplinary process would be "procedurally unfair" and was based on a clause in the school's code of conduct that "infringes on the right to equality" and did not comply with schools' constitutional obligation to make "reasonable accommodation" for religious and cultural practices.

Cassette said the legal team suggested that the parties meet to try to amicably resolve the matter.

The Gauteng Department of Education could not be reached for comment by Saturday Star. 

ALSO READ: Egypt teacher held for beating student over hijab


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