SIBLINGS Sakeenah and Bilaal Dramat, who had been kicked out of school for wearing traditional Islamic headgear, will attend their first full day of classes for the new school year today. The Western Cape Education Department stepped in to assist the Kraaifontein family after the pair had been out of Eben Donges High for six days.
Sakeenah, 16, and Bilaal, 13, returned to class yesterday after “extensive discussions” between the school’s principal and department officials, said department spokesman Paddy Attwell. They had been asked by teachers to remove their headscarf and fez on the first day of the school year on Wednesday last week.
Sakeenah, in Grade 11, had refused to remove her scarf, while Bilaal, in Grade 9, removed his fez as he had not wanted to cause trouble.
Attwell said the department had indicated in writing that the pupils should return to school and be able to wear their headgear.
“A district official joined parents at the school for the discussion and to facilitate the learners’ return to class. An imam from the family’s mosque in Kraaifontein provided valuable advice on requirements for Muslim attire and how they can be accommodated in school dress codes.”
The siblings’ mother, Nabila Dramat, said the meeting at the school had gone very well, with the issue being rectified. Dramat, who had asked the SA Human Rights Commission to investigate the incident, said she was grateful for the “miracle” which had allowed her children to return to school.
Attwell said that all schools should follow the Department of Basic Education’s national guidelines on school uniforms. According to these, a school’s dress code should take religious and cultural diversity into account. “If wearing a particular attire… is part of the religious practice of pupils or an obligation, schools should not, in terms of the constitution, prohibit the wearing of such items.”