Kwara Hijab Imbroglio: Government shuts affected schools indefinitely

By Demola Akinyemi – Ilorin

Following irreconcilable differences between Kwara state government, and Christian schools in the state over wearing of Hijab to schools by Muslim students in their schools, which should take off today, the government in the wee hours of Monday announced the postponement of their resumption until a later date.

At the last count, the Baptist Church which has about 23 schools scattered in the state, ECWA, and Cherubim and Seraphim have all stuck to their guns that they will resist their Muslim pupils to wear hijab to their schools and further demanded the return of their schools by the government.

The current Hijab controversy was blew opened penultimate Thursday evening, after series of consultations with stakeholders, when Kwara state government approved that interested Muslim students attending Christian public schools in the state can be wearing Hijab to schools, stressing that the government affirms the right of every child in public schools to freedom of worship.

It, therefore, directed the ten public schools that were hitherto closed in the wake of protests over the religion controversy to be reopened.

The government further directed the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development to come up with a uniform hijab for all public/ grant-aided schools, which will be the accepted mode of head covering in schools.

This is contained in a statement issued by Secretary to the State Government Prof Mamma Sabah Jibril on Friday morning.

While some muslims organisations commended the boldness and stance of the state government,the affected christian schools under the aegis of “Proprietors of mission secondary schools”, in a swift reaction  rejected the approval of hijab wearing in mission schools by the Kwara state government and insisted on the return of their schools

The proprietors in a communique read by their spokesman, Rev Victor Dada at a press conference said that the “body condemns the use of hijab in Christian missions grant-aided schools as this will cause discrimination in schools and allow terrorist to easily identify our children and wards.

“Christian mission grant-aided schools should be returned to the owners promptly as most of these schools have churches besides them and unnecessary trespass may lead to break down of law and order.

“Christian faithfuls should occupy all grant aided schools.

Christians should have a day for prayers and fasting for God to intervene in the imbroglo.

“We shall continue to interact and dialogue with the state government on the return of grant aided schools to the proprietors.”

In announcing the schools closure till a later date in the early hours of today ,the Permanent Secretary Ministry of education, Education, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said this in a statement titled

“Hijaab: 10 Kwara schools to remain shut for safety reasons.”

It reads,”The Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development wishes to inform members of the public that the 10 government schools where the use of hijaab is disputed will remain shut until a later date.

“This decision has been taken for safety reasons.

“A statement by the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, listed the schools to include C&S College Sabo Oke, ST. Anthony College, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, CAC Secondary School Asa Dam road, St. Barnabas Secondary School Sabo Oke, St. John School Maraba, St. Williams Secondary School Taiwo Isale, and St. James Secondary School Maraba.

“The government, therefore, directs schoolchildren and teachers in the affected schools to remain at home until the contrary is announce

“The government remains committed to fairness, pluralism, and respect for the law and rights of every citizen at all times,” the statement said

Recall that in early February, In order to stave off a religious crisis,Kwara state government ordered the immediate closure of the ten (10) secondary schools in Ilorin,  following the protest that greeted the alleged refusal of their school’s authorities to allow the Muslim female students to use Hijab to cover their heads in their respective schools.

This is contained in a press statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, state ministry of Education and Human Capital Development,  Mrs. Mary Kemi Adeosun in Ilorin.

The government’s closure of the schools was prompted by earlier protest, by hundreds of female students who put Hijab on their heads, and was turned back to their various homes.

Parents and guardians of the affected female students also kicked against the turning back of their female children in their schools by their school’s Principals

In order to avoid what may likely lead to a religious crisis in the state, the state government consequently closed the ten schools where the protest of Muslim female students happened.

The latest controversy on Hijab was sparked off when the Muslim stakeholders in the state at a press conference in Ilorin appealed to the state government to prevail on former owners of public schools in the state to allow female Muslim students to wear hijab.

The spokesman of the group, Alhaji Ishaq Abdulkareem said that, since the state government had taken over such schools, the former missionary owners no longer have control over the grant-aided schools in the state.