News clipping – Sunday Tribune – 28 August 2011

Ban on fez scrapped

Muslim pupils from a Shallcross school have won the right to wear religious headgear, writes Mitchell Harper.

After drama at a Durban school over religious headgear last week, Muslim boys from Wingen Heights Secondary School have won the right to wear the fezzes which were previously banned.
The Department of Education took the decision after a meeting with parents and the school. The ruling allows the boys to wear the headgear not only during important religious dates, but at all times.

The matter arose when Gordon Govender, principal of Wingen Heights Secondary School, ordered the boys to remove their fezzes last week. It is understood that after a meeting with the school governing body during the week, a decision on a ban was made.
Some parents protested outside the school last Friday, demanding an explanation, and citing their constitutional rights had been violated.

“A recommendation was made that the circuit office be given time to workshop the school on religious policy and thereafter the school (will) be assisted to develop a policy which is compliant with the National Policy on Religion,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Mbali Thusi.
However, it is understood the school had stated the boys had lied about being told to remove their fezzes.

“A lot of the parents are unhappy at the fact that their children were called liars,” said Vee Gani, of the KwaZulu-Natal Parents Association Chatsworth branch.
“Right now it’s the school’s word versus the kids’, which it shouldn’t be,” he added.
Although parents are happy with the department’s decision, Gani was unhappy with the way the department handled the matter.

“The meeting was called on short notice and not many of the parents were present when it took place. They didn’t even interview the children separately. The department says the matter is closed, but to be honest, we don’t feel that the matter has been finalised,” said Gani.
Parent Abdul Amod said he was pleased with the ruling.

“I have told my child that he can tell the boys that they don’t have to wear the headgear all the time. They can if they want to but they don’t have to.

“Just through Ramadaan they should.”
But Amod said he was angry that the school had called the children “liars”.
“We were thinking that we were going to make the school apologise but are willing to let it go,” he said

But Sunday Tribune readers felt that schools were places of education, not religion, and that schools had one rule for all pupils. (See further news clips)