ByÂ Amiel M. Fagbulu
About 30Â months agoÂ in the January of 2014Â there were skirmishes in some schools inÂ the State of OsunÂ when children belonging to different religious denominations went confrontational and in defiance of the laid down rulesÂ came to school wearing their cassocks, hijab, andÂ religiousÂ traditional wears of sorts. According to reports the peace of the school was disturbed and gross irresponsibility took over while the school authorities and parents who apparently instigated the rebellious actÂ looked onÂ in glee.
Various interpretationsÂ wereÂ given toÂ thatÂ event,Â each skewed to promote the favored politicalÂ or religiousÂ agenda of the reporter. In turning that breach ofÂ peace into political soap opera the jaundiced views of those reporting,Â irrespective of whatever coloration they gave to it, missed the greatest import of that tragi-comical display.Â In their attempt to discredit the governor of the State some were led to propagate moronically that the hijab was an attempt to Islamize schools in the State.Â They are back at it again claiming that the governor had by proclamation made it compulsory for the hijab to be won in schools.
The Muslim communityÂ that felt that itsÂ rights were infringed headed for the courts and nowÂ in June 2016 thatÂ aÂ courtÂ judgement has been deliveredÂ thatÂ theÂ hijab could legitimately be adorned and worn to school, theÂ misguided and disrespectfulÂ Christian mission associated with the school has shown total disregard for the laws of the country and has gone back to its mischievous ways. The non-Muslim students in the school had a field day coming to school in all sorts of dresses turning the school once more into a carnival of clowns.Â The only â€˜religiousâ€™ dress genre absent at school that day wasÂ the blood and cowry-covered tunic ofÂ SangoÂ worshipers complete with the diminutive double-edged axe. The outfits of the masquerades that accompany Sango were also fortunately missing.
The endorsement of the bad behavior of the children by the principalÂ of the schoolÂ was patent by his very unprofessional and illogical pronouncement that because the childrenÂ clad in buffoonish robesÂ were in class workingÂ peacefullyÂ together, all was well. One can guess from a distance that he is probably an aggrievedÂ or connivingÂ Christian and a biased teacher whoÂ is ignorant ofÂ what the education laws say about anything.Â The competence ofÂ theÂ School Board alsoÂ was put in doubt by its failureÂ toÂ pronounce firmly that impunity and defiance were gross acts of indiscipline in schools that were damaging to the properÂ upbringing of theÂ children.
A competent court hadÂ given its ruling, right or wrong, and all that an educated body hadÂ to doÂ wasÂ to challenge that decisionÂ legally in courtÂ ifÂ it feltÂ dissatisfied. Rather than do what is right, misguidedÂ ChristianÂ parents allowed their children to don all sorts of dress to school in clear defiance and disregard of the rule stipulating what dress children could wear to school. Not a wordÂ of admonitionÂ has been heard from CAN about the irresponsible behaviorÂ ofÂ a so-called ChristianÂ school andÂ the tele-guidedÂ childrenÂ being used as puns.
The State Government on its side has notÂ taken theÂ firm andÂ needed action ofÂ suspending the young hooligans the school authority is breeding andÂ enforcing what the laid down rules are.Â While some may see as wisdom the reticence of the State Government in not coming down hard on the misbehavior of the children as condoned by the head teacher and school authorities, others including the religious fanatics that want a show-downÂ will take further advantage of thisÂ maturedÂ approach and be emboldened to encourage the children to wear moreÂ garish andÂ horrid dresses to school next time they feel like ruffling the feathers of the government and causing mayhem in the State.
In spite of the cautious inaction of the governmentÂ thatÂ in fact owns the school, the rumor mill is churning out the propaganda that the State is at it again wanting to Islamize the schools. Maybe the governor should do the right thing which is to uphold discipline and not bother about political correctness which is to condone irresponsibility and the breeding of impunity in our schools.Â Schools in the State should not be allowed to turn into breeding grounds for thugs, brazen law-breakersÂ and future cultists.
Schools are sanctuaries where children are supposed to be cocooned for a few hours every dayÂ to enableÂ teachersÂ toÂ exposeÂ them
Addressing first things first therefore, the strong presence of miscreantsÂ inÂ anyÂ of our schools should beÂ a serious matterÂ of greatÂ concern toÂ usÂ allÂ especially at theÂ primary and secondaryÂ education levels.Â Turning the traditional school assembly into a carnivalÂ is a desecration of the time-honored ritual of soberÂ reflections and belonging that all students shareÂ at morning assembly. ToÂ look the other way orÂ brush that violation asideÂ is a depiction of both the ignorance and dishonestyÂ of the pontiffs who fiddle while our future is in flames.Â That is how law-makers learn at school to become law-breakers.
School governance provides clear guidelines for dealing with such ugly situations and any principal that does not know what to do must kiss his job goodbye at least forÂ sometimeÂ so as to getÂ retrained and be better prepared for the thunder next time. Also, the School Management Board by whatever name, that schools are expected to have must be held accountable for failing to act promptly either to quell the rebellion or advise the governmental agency responsible to pull out the necessary plugs and douse the fireÂ of the drunken clowns in their multifarious masquerades.Â InstantÂ
Governments no doubt have rules if not laws that guide what can be worn to school. Once that is the case those children who out ofÂ mischief or misdirection turnÂ their schools to funâ€“parks should be dealt with very firmly according to existing rules. ChildrenÂ like the rest of usÂ have no rights to take the laws into their hands and disrupt the learning days ofÂ thoseÂ thatÂ are not radicalized and only go to school to benefit from the costly provisions made for their benefit by theirÂ parents andÂ governments. The thugsÂ no doubt have theÂ democraticÂ option of respectful and reasoned presentation of their grievancesÂ to the school authorities for consideration.Â The tragedy here is that there is no grievance to attend to; only the goading of the students to be disorderly and disruptive, in order to negate the good works of the government in making excellent provisions for learning and development.
The climate of a school is very important to learning. An unsettled school in which the children are very busy planning how to outrage and ridicule the authorities or confront other children of other faith cannot be effective in promoting learning. A teacher merely standing in front of a class to teach is just oneÂ ofÂ the many things thatÂ need to be done forlearning to take place. The children being in the proper mental frame to benefit from the teacherâ€™s instruction is another. Being in a confrontational or mischievous frame of mind is not a proper frame of mindÂ for learning.
The hijab is theÂ subject of dissent in educational institutions around the worldÂ and there does not seem to be a definitiveÂ end in view. It has been banned rightly or wrongly inÂ someÂ school systems including inÂ seeminglyÂ Islamic countries like Turkey.Â The central issue is whetherÂ the wearing of the hijab is a cultural MuslimÂ requirementÂ orÂ an IslamicÂ imperative.Â The correct path in any State or country is that laid down by the courts.
TheÂ hijab itself is not a controversial â€˜dressâ€™; the clash is between secularity and theÂ limits to which the absolute rights of individuals can be pushed. The hijab is notÂ in my viewÂ something prescribed by the Holy Quran just as the wearing of an ornamental cross isÂ merelyÂ the product of the thinking of manÂ andÂ notÂ a stipulationÂ of the Holy Bible.Irrespective of what I think however, what needs to be determinedÂ when there is doubtÂ is whether the cross and the hijab, to take only a few, areÂ fundamental to being a true Christian or MoslemÂ respectivelyÂ or a good student.Â Whether theyÂ areÂ or not, it makes sense to permit those who choose toÂ wear them to do so. It is the fundamental right of every child to be allowed to choose his religion and worship accordingly.
The caveat in favor of the hijab is that it is notÂ anotherÂ â€˜dressâ€™Â but a head gear that can be worn in addition to whatever uniform is prescribed, just like a cap can. TheseÂ robes and other attires being infused into the debate areÂ dressesÂ that areÂ worn to obscureÂ or replace theÂ prescribedÂ school uniform. TheseÂ areÂ thereforeÂ two different issues any of which can be instated by the courts if called upon to adjudicate.Â There was therefore no need for the silly theatrics that followed the court pronouncementÂ on the hijab.Â Those who claim the right to wearÂ the hijab, mitre orÂ even the turban to school should be challenged in court and whatever the courts say should either be accepted or taken to the highest court in the land for adjudication.Â A school uniform cannot be replaced by any of the dresses worn by these troublesome children since they replace or are not worn to complement the approved dress.
In all these, what schools stand for is the dishing out of good education. Governance should use that as the guiding light in solving day-to-day problems thatÂ should not take over the centralÂ focus ofÂ schooling which is to educate.Â CAN should know better.