SIO delegation led by National Secretary, Thouseef Madikeri submitted a detailed memorandum and 20 page document on CBSE dress code prepared by Mr. Abdussalam Puthige (Renowned Scholar & the Chief Editor of Vartha Bharathi) to Sri YSK Sheshu Kumar (Chairman, CBSE). Mr. Nazeerul Hasan Falahi (National Secretary, SIO) was also present.
While the dismal situation of the status of the Indian Muslim Community in terms of education is alarmingly bad, the plight of Muslim women in this arena is much worse. Obviously it is the collective responsibility of the Muslim Community in the first place to take every possible measure to improve the situation radically. The government is expected to extend full support to the Community and help it overcome all obstacles in this regard.
Significantly, recent years have seen a remarkable improvement in the approach of the Community towards education of its female members. Unlike in the past, the percentage of Muslim girls attending schools and pursuing higher education is gradually rising. It is the responsibility of the Government and the educational institutions to acknowledge this trend and extend every possible support to strengthen this trend further. One crucial factor in this regard is to sensitize the educational boards, institutions and teachers towards the cultural and religious concerns, apprehensions, sentiments and susceptibilities of the female Muslim students and their parents.
Unfortunately today the level of sensitivity in this regard stands at low ebb and therefore deserves special attention as well as remedial measures. One of the major challenges being faced by the Muslim girls going to schools and colleges today is the resistance by a section of teachers, institutions and boards of education towards the dressing pattern of Muslim girls. There are many instances of Muslim girls being practically denied admission to schools and colleges on the pretext of the dress code. They are in some cases denied permission to wear their head scarves in the class rooms or in the examination halls or in the entire school premises.
For students and parents who take their religious beliefs and cultural and traditional practices seriously, this would practically mean being in a situation wherein they have to choose either education at the cost of their faith or their faith at the cost of education. Such cases are being reported time and again from various parts of the country. Obviously this is not the way to encourage any Community or any section of the society to progress in education.
Uniform and Examination are the two excuses generally used by teachers and institutions to discourage scarf. In fact both these excuses are too feeble to stand any scrutiny. Uniform has its limitations. Similar attire does not bring in absolute similarity. They do not undo the differences in the height, weight, stature, voice and the skin color etc. of the students. They do not transform all the students in an institution into similar looking robots or factory products. Therefore obviously, Scarf can be accommodated as part of the uniform, with certain conditions regarding its color and design, to make it compatible with the Uniform of any particular institution. Just to cite an example, Indian Armed forces, Paramilitary forces and the Police department accommodate within their ranks, the beard and turban of the members of the Sikh Community. As far as the possibility of scarf being misused to conceal and carry prohibited materiel into the examination halls is concerned, one cannot deny that such possibilities are not exclusively confined to scarfs. Students are likely to carry such material, concealing them in their shirts, trousers or skirts too. There are well known and well accepted measures traditionally available to effectively avoid such malpractices. Such measures may be used in the case of scarf wearing students too.
In this context we request your esteemed self and your Department to co ordinate with all the concerned authorities and departments and issue a circular addressing all educational institutions and boards, prohibiting any discrimination in the campus and in the examination halls and instructing them to take a positive and accommodating stand with regard to female Muslim students and Christian Nuns wearing scarf.
Department of Education
Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO)