Karnataka Minister for Primary and Secondary Education BC Nagesh said on Tuesday, April 19 that students will not be allowed to wear the hijab during the Pre-University (PU) exams set to begin on April 22. This rule will be applicable to all institutions, including private ones, the minister said, and any student wearing a hijab will be required to remove it to enter the halls. However, a teacher told TNM that in certain colleges, teachers have been asked to not wear the hijab, though the Karnataka High Court did not mandate uniform for teachers. When the Minister was asked if teachers will be allowed to wear hijabs in the exam hall, he replied that the government will not stop them, but certain college managements will.
The government cannot ask the teachers not to wear hijabs as they do not have a dress code. But college managements felt that they (teachers) should support the students, and not wear the hijab inside the classroom halls. However, the government has implicitly indicated that teachers in hijabs will not roped in for invigilator duties. "There are only a few instances where teachers want to wear hijab and these teachers were relieved from examination duty," BC Nagesh said.
The Karnataka government before the SSLC Class 10 board exams began in Karnataka, which began on March 28 had issued an order stating that students must strictly adhere to uniforms if their schools or colleges mandate a dress code. At the time, BC Nagesh had said that teachers wearing hijabs would not be allowed to enter exam halls as well.
Last month, hundreds of students who insisted on wearing hijabs to the exam were turned away from exam centres during the SSLC exams. The Education Minister had said that no special re-examination can be held for these students, and that they can opt to appear for supplementary examinations. Minister Nagesh had said that the government cannot make an exception for the students who remained absent from the exams because they were protesting against the hijab ban. The minister claimed that allowing reexamination for the students would ‚Äúset a bad precedent,‚ÄĚ and that students may seek reexams for other reasons in the future.
The Karnataka government had taken action against those violating the dress code for the SSLC exams, including teachers and school managements. In March, seven school officials including five teachers were suspended from a government-aided school in Karnataka‚Äôs Gadag for allowing Muslim students to write the SSLC exam while wearing hijabs. Of these, five were invigilators, and they had purportedly allowed five-six hijab-clad students to write the exam.