Nigeria: Again, Kwara Govt Shuts 10 Schools Over Hijab Controversy

Kwara government directs the 10 secondary schools where the use of the hijab is disputed not to reopen today.

The Kwara State Ministry of Education has reversed its decision to reopen the 10 grant-aided schools, where the use of hijab is disputed.

According to the Ministry's permanent secretary, Kemi Adeosun, the schools earlier told to reopen on Monday, will remain shut.

She said the decision was taken for safety reasons.

"The government therefore directs schoolchildren and teachers in the affected schools to remain at home until the contrary is announced.

"The government remains committed to fairness, pluralism, and respect for the law and rights of every citizen at all times," the statement read.

Background

The government, in February , ordered the temporary closure of 10 grant-aided secondary schools in Ilorin, the state capital, pending the resolution of the controversy in the schools.

The schools are C&S College, ST. Anthony College, ECWA School, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, CAC Secondary School, St. Barnabas Secondary School, St. John School, St. Williams Secondary School and St. James Secondary School.

Muslim leaders had insisted that students should be allowed to use the head covering in accordance with the Constitution but their Christian counterparts said such negates the heritage of the missions, who built the schools.

However, after several peace meetings, the state government approved the use of hijab in all public schools in the state and ordered the reopening of the affected schools schools on March 8.

The state government said it had considered the submissions of all the major interest groups on the matter.

But the decision did not go down well with the Christian leaders who kicked against it openly, insisting that they will not allow such in their mission schools.

They have also urged Christians "to occupy the schools" when they reopen today in protest of the government's resolution.

The military government, in the 1970s, took over these schools from the missions who founded them.

These schools, now grant-aided, had their names changed afterwards but some, like those in Kwara, retained their names.

The Christian missions in Kwara State had twice challenged the government's ownership of the schools in court but lost the suit at the high and appellate courts.

Undaunted, the missions comprising different Christian denominations, have appealled to the Supreme Court.

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