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.

Hijab-clad students walking out of their schoolImage for representation
news Controversy Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 15:25

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.

A source told TNM that in some colleges oral instructions had been given to teachers and the management in turn were telling them that this was communicated to them by the government. After the recently-concluded Class 10 Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) exams, the PU exams are scheduled to begin on April 22 and go on until May 18 in the state. As many as 6,84,255 students have enrolled for the examinations, stated an official release from the Department of Pre-University Education. Elaborate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of exams amid the possibility of the hijab row resurfacing, the Education Minister 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.

Read: Teachers wearing hijab cannot do board exam duty, says Karnataka govt

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’s 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.

Read: Five Karnataka teachers suspended for letting students in hijab write board exam

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