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Thursday, May 13, 2010


Ratheesh Kaliyadan

Wearing Maftha (head scarf) by a Muslim girl is a crime! If you put a question mark, nobody says YES. But a CBSE school in Alappuzha district says it is a crime. The school authority issued transfer certificate to Nebula, a female Muslim student, she was about to go to 10th standard in Believers Church English Medium School affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education. An unbelievable action from the part of a school in the ‘secular Kerala’. Are we as secular as the boasts going on?

If you ask the reason for sudden issue of transfer certificate is this student, the answer will be very simple: she wore maftha. It’s the first time she is expelled on the ground that she wears maftha. According to Nebula’s parents, she wears maftha since kindergarten days.

Nazir Musliar, the student’s father and an imam at a madrassa states that the school authority warned her that the she would not be allowed to wear a headscarf to school any more. The parents put an appeal to allow her to complete SSLC since moving this last moment may affect her studies adversely. “But the school management refused and instead issued her transfer certificate to the Govt.High School Mannanchery.” This school follows Kerala syllabus. These two schemes have thorough distinctions; not only in syllabi but also in methodology. Clear cut distinction is available in evaluation strategies also.

The transfer certificate issued on April 26, 2010 mentions the reason for transfer as “Maftha is not allowed in this school”.

Governments have no control over CBSE schools. Still education minister M.A.Baby told that the govt. would take appropriate action. The state govt.is asked the deputy director of education, Alappuzha to conduct an inquiry and submit report. “If such a ban is imposed, it cannot be tolerated in a pluralistic society such as ours” Mr. Baby added.

The basic question here is how the unaided system pave red carpet to religious rigidity does. We don’t believe wearing a head scarf will lead the girl to heaven as her parents and some others believe. But we are not against their personal choice. The concept of hell and heaven itself is an absurd dream. At the same time we live in a pluralistic society where religions and non-believers have a space to interact. The Indian constitution underlines the same. Harmonious get together of these sections is the corner stone of the swecular, democratic India. This new incident threatens it. Threat to nation and constitution by educational practice is in a dangerous state now.

Secular educational activists warned it earlier. Different religious institutions run schools as they like. They impose narrow-minded religious believes and practices as moral studies and so on. The school authorities firmly ascertain to be believers without any rationale. Non-believing, secular minded learners and teachers are insulted and tortured in such institutions. Here a believing student is also insulted on the ground that she is not believed in a system that the school follows.

Can we insist such monotonous believes in space like schools? Remember the words of Mar Powathil, a Christian monk: Christian children should go to Christian schools. These recent words of the monk support the school authority’s action. Can we have Hindu schools, Muslim schools and Christian schools rather than a school where all sections have a secular and secure space? This attitude to compartalise learners and the society is the real threat to the secular mood of our nation. At this juncture the Right to Education bill and its after effects in connection with the freedom allowed to unaided institutions also is critical.

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