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Cape Town -

A row has broken out at a city school over a pupil’s right to wear a traditional Islamic headscarf, prompting pupils there to don headscarves during a civvies day in support of the Grade 8 pupil on Thursday.

The dress code of the German International School Cape Town implicitly stated that “no headwear (was) to be worn in class”. The school, private and bilingual, is in Tamboerskloof and enrols pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

Deputy principal Christoph Abt said the pupil’s father had decided he could not ask his daughter to not wear her scarf. He had decided to not enrol his daughter at the school.

There was a discussion at the school regarding a potential change to the dress code, but the school’s board would have to agree to make the change.

Abt said there was an annual general meeting where all members of the board would meet in May when this would be discussed. “We are more than willing to then accept the members’ decision and change our policy.”

He said pupils had decided to wear headscarves to school on Thursday as part of a civvies day in order to experience what it was like.

Abt described this as a “healthy exercise”.

Chairman of the board Wido Schnabel could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The Cape Times was also unable to contact members of the student representative council.

According to the Department of Basic Education’s national guidelines on school uniforms, a school’s dress code should take religious and cultural diversity into account.

Lebogang Montjane, executive director of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa, said it advised members that there needed to be a sound educational reason for any restriction like this and at the same time an effort needs to be made to accommodate to the extent possible religious and cultural differences.

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Cape Times