A private school in Thiruvananthapuram is in the news for asking a newly-admitted hijab wearing student to take a transfer certificate and leave, if she cannot follow the dress code.
The student, who is starting her class 8, was a new entrant in the Jyoti Nilayam Higher Secondary School. Her father alleges that the school authorities, especially the Principal, had met the girl during the admission process but failed to mention that head scarfs were a strict no-no.
"She had not faced this problem in the other school, where she studied from LKG to class 8. There was an interview and a test for admission. During this process, we had met the Principal but she had not mentioned that the head scarf is banned. Further, I did not see anything specific about this in the school diary, admission form etc," the girl's father Muneer*, a Thiruvananthapuram resident, tells TNM.
The school reopened on Thursday, June 6. On Friday, the Principal spotted the student and asked her to 'change it'. The student, confused about the statement, did not understand that the Principal meant the veil and continued to wear it.
"When the Principal met her again, she said that head scarf was not allowed inside the campus or classes and she could wear it after school hours and outside of the compound. She also asked her to not come to school with the scarf on, on Monday," the girl's father added.
On Monday, when the father met the Principal, he alleges that they were asked to take a transfer certificate and leave if they could not follow the dress code.
"I asked her why they did not inform us about the head scarf. To which she asked, why we had not asked her if the hijab was allowed. I was not prepared to take a transfer as the school year had already begun and we did not have a seat in any other school. But the Principal insisted that we do," he alleges.
Further, in the transfer certificate Muneer said he had filled the reason as 'not allowed to wear head scarf. However, when he got the TC certificate back, the reason was changed to 'better facilities'.
Muneer is also planning to take up the matter with the Education Department.
Speaking to TNM, authorities at the Jyoti Nilayam school alleged that the school diary had clear instructions that all students must follow the dress code.
"We have not specifically mentioned that Hijab is not allowed. But instructions are given to mandatorily follow the dress code," an official in the Principal's office told TNM.
Regarding the row, the official also added that school authorities were having a discussion regarding the issue.
"We did not ask them to take a TC. They were clear that they could not follow the dress code to the tee and hence they demanded a TC," the school alleges.