Many parents of pupils at the International School, Ibadan (ISI) of the University of Ibadan (UI) yesterday staged a protest against the approach of their Muslim colleagues in introducing hijab for female pupils.
They said it would divide the pupils along religious lines.
The protesters carried placards as they marched to the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) Academic, Prof. Abideen Aderinto, to deliver a letter conveying their opposition to the way some Muslim parents introduced hijab, which led to the closure of the school indefinitely on Monday.
Led by Olalekan Thani, Babaawo Awosanmi Abe and Olusola Aleshin, the parents said the 55-year-old school is one indivisible entity which no one or group should be allowed to divide for any reason.
They described as dangerous a situation where pupils are made to “discriminate” along religious, ethnic or other sentiments, instead of learning together as global citizens.
In the letter, titled: “Clamour for the Introduction of Religious Emblem of Our Children in the International School, University of Ibadan,” the parents urged the school’s board, headed by the DVC, to ensure that its rules and regulations are allowed to prevail.
They said the children are friends and colleagues as well as their parents, adding that any attempt by some Muslim parents to divide them should not be allowed to succeed.
The protesters accused the Muslim parents of attempting to disrupt the school’s academic activities as well as the love and unity existing among the children, who they said do not see religious barriers among themselves.
Some Muslim parents had written a letter to the school management and Governing Board, stating that their female children must be allowed to wear the hijab on their school uniform.
The letter was titled: “Notification of Muslim Parents’ Resolution on Hijab for our Muslim Girls in ISI.”
The school was first closed down last week when some female pupils turned up in hijab, few days after their parents submitted the letter to the head teacher.
Academic activities were suspended that day as the school management considered their action a contravention of the dress code.
But the Muslim parents insisted on their children wearing the hijab.
Monday’s closure was the second as the crisis lingered, even after the governing board’s decision on November 14 pleaded to all parties to maintain the status quo while the issues were being sorted out.
The concerned ISI parents called for the reopening of the school with tight security for their children, especially as they are about to begin internal and external examinations.
Their letter reads: “We wish to state that the current dress code/uniform of the pupils of ISI, which has been in use since inception (about 55 years ago), has no religious coloration; it is good enough and sufficient to fulfil our moral obligations to the children. It should not be a subject of discussion out of the jurisdiction of the constituted Board of Governors, as done by this Muslim Parents’ Forum.”
The DVC, who received the protest letter, promised to ensure that the matter is resolved peacefully.
He urged all parties to exercise restraint and avoid words or actions that may further enflame the crisis.