Data | Hijab row: Why the ban is a double blow to Muslim girl students

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, the share of Muslim girl students in the 6-17 age group attending schools in 2019-20 was significantly lower than their Hindu and Christian counterparts in almost all States except Kerala

Updated - March 13, 2022 08:40 pm IST

Published - February 20, 2022 07:55 pm IST

Udupi: Students arrive at a school that re-opened after Karnataka High Court’s interim order restraining students from wearing religious symbols inside the classroom, in Udupi, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The Karnataka Government announced the re-opening of the colleges for degree students following the High Court’s interim order.

Udupi: Students arrive at a school that re-opened after Karnataka High Court’s interim order restraining students from wearing religious symbols inside the classroom, in Udupi, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The Karnataka Government announced the re-opening of the colleges for degree students following the High Court’s interim order. | Photo Credit: SHAILENDRA BHOJAK

On December 30, 2021, a controversy erupted at the Government PU College for Girls in Udupi, Karnataka, after 12 students submitted a memorandum to the principal seeking permission to wear hijabs (headscarves) in classrooms. They were denied permission. While six of them decided to attend classes without the hijab, the remaining boycotted the classes and filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court. Since then, many schools and colleges in Karnataka have not allowed students to enter their institutions wearing hijabs. For instance, in Shivamogga, students of Karnataka Public School returned home after they were denied entry for wearing hijabs. Similar incidents have been reported in Shiralakoppa and Shikaripur in Shivamogga district, Belur in Hassan district, and Indavara in Chikkamagaluru taluk. Moreover, agitations against Muslim girls wearing hijabs have erupted in parts of the State, instilling fear among the students. As schools were closed due to COVID-19, there has been a huge drop in learning levels in both reading and numeracy, especially in primary classes, in Karnataka, according to the Annual Status of Education Report. Data show that Muslim girls were already at a disadvantage in school education compared to those from other religions. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, the share of Muslim girl students in the 6-17 age group attending schools in 2019-20 was significantly lower than their Hindu and Christian counterparts in almost all States except Kerala. It is in this context that Muslim girl students face the hijab ban.

Data shows that teenage pregnancies are lower among girls who completed school education and their awareness levels are relatively much higher. Girls who did not complete schooling do not have much control over decisions taken at home. 

Attendance levels

The table lists the % of girls aged 6-17 years who attended school in the 2019-20 school year^. The attendance levels of Muslim girl students were lower than their Hindu counterparts in most States. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, while only 63.2% of Muslim girls attended school, 81% of Hindus did so.

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Impact on life

The table lists the impact that schooling has on young girls from Karnataka in different aspects of their lives. For instance, the % of women in Karnataka earning more than or about the same as their husbands saw a rise from 26.8% to 51.2% as their level of education increased from no education to >11 years of education.

Source: ^National Family Health Survey-5, *Annual State of Education Report

Also read | Girls in Karnataka want both hijab and education: ‘Won’t be allowed to go to school if we do not wear hijab’

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