Does it matter what you wear or how you wear it at a place of learning?
Is there a case to be made for minimal distractions in a place of learning especially in a place where minds are still being formed hence many schools require simple school uniforms to ensure uniformity and conformity. However some say this stifles the mind of expression and innovation.
What is most important here and what values should we be teaching?
Academic activities at the University of Ibadan International School were Monday morning paralysed as the management of the school locked the classrooms against the students over the use of Hijab by some female Muslim students.
Some parents under the umbrella of International School Ibadan Muslim Parents’ Forum had, in letter addressed to the principal of the school, Mrs. Phebean Olowe, a copy of which was obtained by DAILY POST, argued that “Hijab wearing for young Muslim girls, apart from the fact that it is part of their religious belief, is part of their God given fundamental human right as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
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), also copied the Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and Sultan of Sokoto, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, The Chairman, ISI Parents Teachers Association, ISI, Vice – Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Deputy Vice – Chancellor (Academic), University of Ibadan, Registrar, University of Ibadan, Chairman, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Chief Imam, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Minister, Federal Ministry of Education, Commissioner, Oyo State Ministry of Education, Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Chairman, Muslim Community of Oyo State, President, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), President, Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), President, Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), President, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), President, Muslim Rights Council (MURIC) and Chairman, Hijab Advocacy Groups.
But, the morning assembly of the school, which was supposed to commence around 7:30 am and end by 8am could not hold on Monday due to the presence of the Hijab-wearing students and their parents, who were there to monitor the situation when DAILY POST visited the school Monday morning. The classes which should commence by 8am were also cancelled as entrances to the classes were put under keys by the school management.
Some of the students and teachers were seen discussing the issue at the entrance of their classes. The students, who were roaming about the school premises, told our reporter that they were ready to be taught but the classes have been shut. The classes remained locked when our correspondent left the school around 11 am.
However, when asked to speak on why the assembly was cancelled and classes remained locked, the school principal, Mrs. Phebean Olowe said she was not ready to address journalists who were at the school to get her reactions.
She declared that it was only the school management board headed by the DVC (Academic), University of Ibadan, Professor Yinka Aderinto that can speak on the matter.
The principal said, “I don’t want to talk, I am not the owner of the school. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to see any journalist here”.
Leader of the UI security team, who led his team to the school, Mr. Muddathir Idowu, also declined comments when asked by journalists to speak. Muddashir said, “I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to hear anything, I don’t want to talk on this matter”.
However, Balogun, who spoke on behalf of the concerned parents while addressing journalists, said he was surprised that the school was shut because the Muslim female students wore Hijab to school.
Balogun, who was flanked by other parents, added that the decision of the school to cancel the assembly and classes because some female Muslim students wore the Hijab was contrary to section 7 (1-8) of the school rules and regulations which has to do with the dress code in the school.
Balogun said, “I am a parent of ISI. I am here to drop my children. We gave the school notification that in line with the constitution in all ramifications, be it the school rules and regulations, norms and constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, that our daughters should be made to wear Hijab.
“But, I am surprised and shocked that classes were shut and assembly was also cancelled because students wore Hijab today. I don’t know the correlation between the two, students wear Hijab and the classes were shut. We will not accept anything until our daughters are allowed to wear Hijab. I want my daughters to be wearing Hijab because there is nothing that says that they cannot wear it even the school rules and regulations. Go and check page four, section 7 (1 to 8) of the ISI rules and regulations that has to do with dressing code, there is nothing there that forbids a Muslim girl from wearing the Hijab. So, wearing Hijab is in conformity with the school rules and regulations and the extant law. We are here as law abiding citizens, you can see that, this is one of the parents, these are parents, we want out daughters to be wearing Hijab”.
However, the Director of Public Communications, University of Ibadan, Toye Oladejo when asked to speak, said he was not aware of the incident.
Oladejo, in a telephone conversation, added that he has been occupied with the ongoing convocation activities at the university since 8am.