A school here has suddenly issued a transfer certificate to a female Muslim student who was about to go on to Class 10, allegedly because she wore a headscarf (“maftha”) to school according to her religious custom. She was a student of the school, affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, from kindergarten class.

According to the student's father, Nazir Musaliar, an Imam at a madrasa here, his daughter, who passed the Class 9 examinations and was waiting for classes to start this month, was warned during the last academic year by the authorities of the Believers' Church English Medium School at Gurupuram that she would not be allowed to wear a headscarf to school anymore. She has been wearing headscarf all through her schooldays, he said.

The parents appealed to the school authorities to allow her to complete Class 10, since moving her at this juncture could hamper her studies. “The school management refused and instead issued her a transfer certificate to the Mannancherry Government High School, which follows the State syllabus,” Mr. Nazir said. The certificate, issued on April 26, mentions the reason for the transfer as “Maftha is not allowed in this school”.

Complaint to Collector

The parents lodged a complaint with District Collector P. Venugopal, who has now ordered a probe by the Revenue Divisional Officer into the issue. On being contacted, Mr. Venugopal told The Hindu on Tuesday night that he was trying to help the student secure admission either at the same school or another CBSE-affiliated school so that her schooling would not be interrupted. The issue, he asserted, would be sorted out once the report from the RDO was available.

The school in question was earlier run by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, and was recently acquired by the Thiruvalla-based Believers' Church. “That is when the rules changed,” Mr. Nazir said at a press conference here on Tuesday.

According to Mr. Nazir, the school initially declined to mention the reason for its action in the TC, but added it when he insisted that another school where the child may seek admission should know why his daughter was shifting at such a critical point.

School's contention

Philipose Paulose, Schools Education Officer for the Believers' Church, told The Hindu from Thiruvalla on the phone that Mr. Nazir's version was untrue.

“The parents wanted to take the child out of the school and they mentioned that strange reason in the TC application form. When the Principal refused to mention such a reason, she was threatened. Otherwise, the school does not have any such rule and there are several other Muslim girl students coming to school wearing headscarves,” he added.