4 June 2003

Gambia: PMO Tells Civil Servants to Dress Properly

Banjul — The Personnel Management Office (PMO) has issued a circular requesting civil servants to wear the proper dress to work.

The memo written by Jackie Njie for permanent secretary, PMO, on May 6 and addressed to all permanent secretaries and heads of departments stated: "PMO views with increasing concern and is highly disturbed at the type of revealing dresses such as half blouses, mini skirts, transparent dresses, T-shirts, baseball caps, Jeans and tight fitting pants etc, that are worn by some civil servants to work, which violate the civil service dress code."

The circular further stated that "every civil servant worthy of his or her name and status....need to be neatly attired in either traditional or Western apparel."

The PMO urged all supervising authorities to ensure that all efforts are concerted to ensure that everyone conforms strictly to the appropriate dress code.

Veil memo

Meanwhile the Daily Observer has also secured an "a very urgent" definitive memo written by Mr Y Sirreh Jallow, permanent secretary, Department of State for Education on May 20th and sent to the University of The Gambia, The Gambia College, MDI, GTTI, Catholic, Methodist and Anglican secretariats, nine other schools as well as students and teachers unions on the veil and schools uniform issue. This memo was written against the backdrop of the St Therese's veil incident. The full text of the memo read:

"In view of the shortcomings and attendant problems of the previous directives on the above captioned subject, I am re-issuing the said directives as follows:

Your attention is kindly drawn to the volatile situation of the disciplinary line of action meted out to girls wearing the veil based on their religious persuasions.

Directives are hereby conveyed for the cessation of the practice of sending away girls who wear veils to school in the spirit of tolerance for greater peace and harmony in our motherland.

The veil is permitted in all schools in The Gambia that enroll Muslim girls irrespective of ownership.

These directives are specific to the VEIL i.e: headgear. Any student who attempts to change the school uniform either by extension of the skirt or wearing of long sleeve blouses or failure to wear the school badge should be sent home. Students who prefer long dresses should go to Arabic/Islamic schools that allow long uniforms.

The colour of the veil remains the discretion of the school administration and no ornaments or decorative embroidery on the veil is permissible. The veil should be plain and simple.

In addition all students who choose to wear the veil should participate fully in every curricular activity including Physical Education (PE).

Addressees are kindly requested to disseminate these directives to all and sundry under their purview.

The cooperation of all concerned is highly solicited.

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