Hi­jab con­tro­versy casts shroud over Ibadan school

Weekly Trust - - News - Jeremiah Oke, Ibadan

Stu­dents of the 55-yearold In­ter­na­tional Se­condary School at the Univer­sity of Ibadan on Mon­day re­turned home early as the man­age­ment of the school locked up the class­rooms se­quel to the en­force­ment of hi­jab use among Mus­lim stu­dents by their par­ents un­der the aegis of In­ter­na­tional School Mus­lim Par­ents’ Fo­rum.

As a re­sult, on Tues­day, the Par­ents-Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (PTA) sum­moned an emer­gency meet­ing to stop an im­mi­nent cri­sis in the school and re­solved to chan­nel its res­o­lu­tion to the gov­ern­ing coun­cil for a fi­nal de­ci­sion on the mat­ter.

At the meet­ing, it was es­tab­lished that when­ever a child is ad­mit­ted in the school, teach­ers de­ter­mine where the child be­longs based on re­li­gious be­liefs of the child’s par­ents, and the man­age­ment suc­cess­fully sep­a­rated Chris­tian chil­dren from Mus­lims.

The school, ac­cord­ing to some par­ents who spoke at the meet­ing, made A class in Se­nior Se­condary School 1 (SS1) for Chris­tian stu­dents while B class is meant for Mus­lim stu­dents.

In view of this and other rea­sons, the In­ter­na­tional School Mus­lim Par­ents’ Fo­rum, led by one Ab­dur­rhaman Ba­lo­gun ad­dressed a let­ter to the prin­ci­pal, Mrs. Phe­bean Olowe, stat­ing their in­ten­tion to en­force Hi­jab use on their fe­male chil­dren. The Mus­lim fo­rum ar­gued that apart from the fact that it is part of their re­li­gious be­lief, it is also part of their fun­da­men­tal hu­man right as stip­u­lated in the con­sti­tu­tion .

The par­ents in the let­ter en­ti­tled “No­ti­fi­ca­tion of Mus­lim par­ents’ res­o­lu­tion on Hi­jab for our Mus­lim girls in ISI” signed by Al­haji Ab­dur­rah­man Ba­lo­gun (chair­man) and Mrs. Bi­likis Badiru (sec­re­tary), copied to the Chan­cel­lor, Univer­sity of Ibadan and Sul­tan of Sokoto, the prochan­cel­lor and chair­man of coun­cil, Univer­sity of Ibadan and many oth­ers, in­sisted that hi­jab was not meant for ev­ery fe­male child but those will­ing

Re­act­ing to the de­vel­op­ment, the Deputy Vice Chan­cel­lor Aca­demics, Pro­fes­sor Abideen Ader­into who dou­bles as the Chair­man Court of Gov­er­nors of the school, stated that the jun­gle ap­proach be­ing used by the par­ents would not be tol­er­ated.

Pro­fes­sor Ader­into who said the school is a pri­vate one and not run with any kobo from gov­ern­ment stated that it has rules gov­ern­ing the dress code which all par­ents agreed to.

Ader­into ex­plained that af­ter he re­ceived the let­ter on Novem­ber 9, he held a meet­ing with the fo­rum on Sat­ur­day for more than two hours adding that he was shocked and dis­ap­pointed that the par­ents could be frus­trat­ing ef­forts of the man­age­ment at restor­ing the glory of the school.

“I am the chair­man of the Court of Gov­er­nors and I am a proud Mus­lim. ISI is a pri­vate school. UI does not fund it. It is funded by the fees col­lected. It is un­for­tu­nate that this is com­ing up now. Even the Par­ent-Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion is not aware of the idea by this group. In­deed some other Mus­lim par­ents ex­pressed shock when they heard about this fo­rum. Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1963, the school has not ex­pe­ri­enced any re­li­gious cri­sis and we would want to guard against it. The Mus­lim and Chris­tian stu­dents have places to wor­ship in the school. Who­ever de­sires to change the rules should go through the process. The teach­ers do not feel safe and so could not have taught any­body be­cause it is a strange de­vel­op­ment. I ap­peal to these peo­ple to stop their ac­tion and al­low peace to reign in the school. It is even strange that this mat­ter was not dis­cussed at the Par­ents Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion at all headed by an­other Mus­lim and lawyer, Bar­ris­ter Kazeem Olaniyan”

To en­sure the cri­sis was am­i­ca­bly re­solved, the Board of Gov­er­nors of the school rose from its meet­ing with a res­o­lu­tion that the dress code of the school be main­tained.

The board re­solved that the dress code as con­tained in the school’s rules and reg­u­la­tions be main­tained while the school man­age­ment has been em­pow­ered to en­force it ap­pro­pri­ately.”

The board ap­pealed to par­ents to abide by the ex­tant rules of the school to en­able it ful­fill its man­date of pro­vid­ing sound ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren.

The school’s alumni as­so­ci­a­tion also said the present con­tro­versy must be viewed from the per­spec­tive of prin­ci­ples and gov­ern­ing laws of the school and not through re­li­gion.

In a mail sent to the chair­man, Board of Gov­er­nors, Pro­fes­sor Ader­into, the pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion, Tive Ekpere, main­tained that the uni­form pol­icy was in­tro­duced to dis­abuse so­cio-eco­nomic in­equal­i­ties, dis­cour­age seg­re­ga­tion and min­i­mize dis­trac­tion from aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ekpere stated that the ag­i­ta­tors must note that the school is a pri­vate one and is gov­erned by its own poli­cies, laws and reg­u­la­tions, adding, “The In­ter­na­tional School Ibadan (ISI) is a sec­u­lar in­ter­na­tional school es­tab­lished to ad­mit and pro­vide the best pos­si­ble ed­u­ca­tion for boys and girls from all over the world; ir­re­spec­tive of their eth­nic­ity, creed, race or re­li­gion. It’s a cen­ter where chil­dren are brought to learn from one an­other with the aim of find­ing their com­mon hu­man­ity.

“The uni­form is unique and is the fab­ric that has bound ISI cul­ture and tra­di­tion till to­day. Be­yond this, the as­so­ci­a­tion wishes to ad­vise that all overt re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties on the school cam­pus be dis­cour­aged hence­forth. While we be­lieve that ev­ery stu­dent should be free to prac­tice what­ever re­li­gion they wish, we are also per­suaded that the ex­er­cise of such rights must be car­ried out within the bounds of ci­vil­ity.”

Stu­dents of the school in hi­jab

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