One of the UK’s leading state primary school, St Stephen’s School in Newham, east London has called on the government to take a firm stand on children wearing hijab.
As per reports, St Stephen’s School became one of the first schools in the country to ban the hijab for girls under eight in 2016 and intends to ban it for girls under 11 from September 2018.
Moreover, the school has also imposed strict rules on Ramzan fasting, a ritual that lasts around 18 hours a day in the summer, on school premises.
Meanwhile, as reported by DailyMail, the school has demanded that parents don’t allow their children to fast throughout the school day during Ramadan — when pupils will have to sit summer exams.
Further, St Stephen’s School with a majority of pupils from Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds and headed by Indian-origin Principal Neena Lall wants the UK government to issue clear guidelines on the issue to prevent a backlash from parents.
“The department should step up and take it out of our hands and tell every school this is how it (fasting) should be. The same for the hijab, it should not be our decision. It is unfair to teachers and very unfair to governors. We are unpaid. Why should we get the backlash,” Arif Qawi, chairman of governors at St Stephen’s School, told The Sunday Times’.
Moreover, the school principal, Neena Lall, backed the change in a bid to make the pupils feel more integrated into the school.
FASTING SHOULD BEGIN FROM THE AGE OF PUBERTY:
“We did not ban fasting altogether but we encouraged them (children) to fast on holidays, at weekends and not on the school campus. Here we are responsible for their health and safety if they pass out on campus. It is not fair to us,” said Qawi, who consulted with Muslim clerics to confirm that fasting should begin from the age of puberty in recent PTI report.
Under the UK’s Department for Education guidelines, uniform policy is a matter for individual head-teachers and their governing bodies.
ABOUT UK’S DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION GUIDELINES:
“It is a matter for individual schools to decide how to accommodate children observing Ramzan, and to set uniform policies. We issue clear guidance on the uniform and to help schools understand their legal duties under the Equality Act,” a Department for Education statement said.