Students from various secondary schools following proceedings during the 6th national students leaders conferences held at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi on April 14, 2014. Some female Muslim students criticised head teachers for forbidding them to wear head scarves in school. PHOTO/JENNIFER MUIRURI
By MARYANNE GICOBI
Female Muslim students have put head teachers on the spot for forbidding them to wear headscarves (hijab) and trousers while in school.
The female students said the rule has forced many of them to transfer from schools they have been admitted to since their religion does not allow them to leave their heads and legs uncovered.
“The rule is putting us at a crossroad, do we go against our religion and stay in schools or do we leave a very good school that we have been admitted and transfer to a Muslim school,” asked Rehema Waqo.
She was speaking at the sixth student’s leaders conference gathering at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi.
The chairperson of Parliamentary committee on education Ms Sabina Chege was taking their grievances.
Ms Waqo, a student from Northern Kenya explained how the rule is breaking national cohesion as Muslim students find themselves bundled in Muslim sponsored schools.
“If the head teachers drop this rule, you will find so many Muslim students in non-Muslim schools, the interaction with the Christian students and those of other religions will surely bring national unity, but for now, as long as this punitive rule exists, you will find very few female Muslim students in Christian sponsored schools,” explained Ms Waqo.
She said the rule was retrogressive because of challenges of getting a girl from North Eastern to go to school.
She also accused some head teachers of forcing them to take Christian religion education despite them being Muslims.
In her response, Ms Chege said there was a shortage of Islam Religious Education teachers but she promised to look into the matter.
The students asked if they could be allowed to study IRE on their own before the government employs the teachers.