HEAD SCUFFS, HIJAB AND EVEN DREADLOCKS NOW ALLOWED IN SCHOOLS.

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justice-philip-waki
Court of appeal Judge Philip Waki.

BY SAM ALFAN.

Forget school rules on uniforms, learners can now wear religious garments, the court has ruled.

In addition to their specified school uniforms, students can now wear headscuffs, (for akorino) Hijab or dreadlocks (in category of religion) to school, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

In a landmark decision that has the potential of throwing school rules in pit latrines, a three-judge bench declared that students deserved to obey their religious requirements in accordance with their constitutional rights.

These rights, they said must be respected and protected.

Appellate Judges Philip Waki, Roselyne Nambuye and Patrick Kiage advised the Education Cabinet Secretary to facilitate urgent consultations and formulate appropriate regulations “for the better protection of the fundamental right to freedom of religion and belief under Article 32 of the Constitution and equality and freedom from discrimination under Article 27 of the Constitution for all pupils and students in Kenya’s educational system.”

Further, the Appellate bench warned sponsors of public schools against imposing harsh, rigid and discriminatory conditions on students drawn from diverse religious backgrounds.

It was imperative for promoters of education to embrace the values and principles of dignity, diversity and non-discrimination, the court held.

The court also quashed a ban imposed on female Muslim students of St Paul’s Kiwanjani Day Mixed Secondary School in Isiolo county from wearing the hijab (a head covering worn in public by Muslim women) and white trousers in addition to the school uniform.

They said that the school’s uniform policy indirectly discriminated against Muslim female students “in so far as it prohibits and prevents them from manifesting their religion through the practice and observance of wearing the Hijab,” the court said.

This effectively overturned the decision made by High Court Judge Harun Makau, outlawing the Muslim attire on the basis that it was illegal and discriminatory of the other student population.

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