Karnataka high court said religious attire will not be allowed in educational institutions
The annual exams are on in Karnataka schools and while in the districts, many students in hijab have been unable to take them, schools in Bengaluru have steered clear of controversy and focused on education. With or without hijab, the school authorities are ensuring that students sit for the exam, pointing out that imparting education is their reason d'etre.
D Shashikumar, the general secretary of Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, said while some schools are following the Karnataka High Court order barring hijab in educational institutions without any dispute, others are allowing students to attend classes in hijab to avoid controversy.
"There is no larger dispute in Bengaluru. Some schools, yes, they have at the moment are not precipitating this and they left the choice to the students and focusing more on recovering the loss of education rather than being politically motivated by the issue. This is a broader understanding of the institution as well as the parents," he said.
One of the schools in the city, the Goodwill Christian School and College, is a private educational institution and has over 90 per cent of students from the Muslim community. But despite the High Court order, there has been no restriction on hijab in the school.
"Yes, I wear a hijab in my class. Nobody has stopped me from wearing the hijab. Wearing a hijab is our right. While admitting students there are no written instructions that said no hijab," said Samiya Fathima, a student of the school.
Dr Sujata Christopher, principal of Goodwills Girls Christian College, said imparting education is their objective, and so she has allowed headscarves in classes.
"It is a very peaceful atmosphere here. And the Muslim girls wear the burkha and hijab while coming to college and while attending classes," she said.
"We have a percentage of students who remove the burkha and continue to attend the classes with hijab and there is also a percentage of Muslim girls who would like to remove the hijab and attend the classes," Dr Sujata Christopher added.
But several schools, while allowing the use of hijab, stoutly denied doing so.
At the Government First Grade College, where the use of hijab inside classrooms has never been an issue, the principal vehemently denied it.
"The judiciary is revered most importantly. And all should follow what the High Court has said. What the students have expressed it is their opinion. But we are not allowing any student inside the class with a hijab," said Principal Anand.
A student confirmed that they have never been asked to remove hijab despite the controversy. Noor Aisha said of the 50 students in her class, only three or four use hijab, including her. "For the past one year I have been wearing the hijab. There have been no issues. Even amid the controversy, the principal has never asked us to remove it. So we have mix of students sitting with and without hijabs," she said.
The Karnataka high court has reserved its judgment on the hijab ban. But its order that headscarves or any religious attire will not be allowed in educational institutions meanwhile, has massively disrupted education for some students.
"Right now we should have been in our labs attending the practicals not compelled to leave. The hopes I had from college and my dreams are getting shattered due to the hatred sowed against hijab," tweeted a student.
"Today was our final practical exam! We had completed our record books and went in great hopes to attend the practical exam. It was so disheartening when our principal threatened us saying, "You have 5 mins to leave, if you don't leave, I'll file a police complaint"," read another tweet of the student from Udupi, the ground zero of the row over hijab.