The Kwara state government has announced the immediate reopening, on Wednesday, of the 10 schools recently shut down over hijab controversy even as the government’s peacebuilding efforts continue.
This is contained in a statement from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
According to the statement, ”The closure of the schools became necessary to forestall security breaches which may affect lives and properties.
”The government is convinced that its policy to allow willing Muslim schoolgirls to wear their hijab in public schools will lead to sustainable peace and communal harmony anchored on mutual respect and understanding.”
”This path to mutual respect, understanding and peace with regards to hijab had long been adopted in northern Nigeria and many states in the Southwest such as Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and Oyo States,’” the statement read in part.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the schools were closed on Feb. 19 over dispute in the usage of Hijab in some of the schools.
The government set up a committee to find a solution to the dispute and it was later announced that the schools will resume on March 8 with willing female students allowed to use hijab.
The government, however, rescinded its decision to reopen the schools over safety concerns as the Christians were not willing to accept the government’s verdict.
This led to the continuous closure of the schools.
The statement added that students preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WAEC) would hold at least two-hour extra lesson to make up for the closed period.
”As the students resume normal classes, the government took special notice of the plight of those of them preparing for WAEC and hereby directs affected schools to hold at least two-hour extra lesson for all the intending candidates after school hours daily.
”The government will provide light lunch for the students until the beginning of their exams while teachers allotted for the extra coaching will get stipends for their efforts.
”This is to bring the students in line ahead of the impending external examination,” the statement read.
The governor commended the Christian and Muslim leaders for their understandings and their efforts to build peace within their respective communities in the past weeks.
”It urges everyone to join hands with the government to raise a generation of school children who will respect one another’s differences and together build a sustainable future for our state.
”The government reminds all its employees such as school principals and teachers in the affected schools to take special note of the policy.
”There will be zero tolerance for violations of anyone’s fundamental human rights under their watch,” the statement warned.
NAN reports that the affected schools included C&S College, Sabo-Oke, St. Anthony’s Secondary school, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School and Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.
The others are 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.