Minister for Primary and Secondary Education B.C. Nagesh has said that students wearing hijab will not be allowed to write the SSLC examination, beginning on Monday, irrespective of whether they are repeaters, private candidates, or those from schools where hijab is part of the uniform.
“Even if hijab is part of the uniform as prescribed in some schools, students have to take the examination without wearing the headscarf. The notification we issued earlier this year clearly stated that no cloth that represents religious identity can be part of the uniform. The same has been upheld by the Karnataka High Court,” the Minister told The Hindu over the phone on Sunday .
“The Government’s notification and the court order are clear. The matter went to the Supreme Court too, where the issue is yet to be taken up for hearing even though the petitioners mentioned that the exam was approaching”, the Minister said.
The State Government, on Friday, issued a circular making uniform compulsory for students appearing for the SSLC examination. This had created confusion among many students and parents. The Government had not distributed uniform to its students in many schools.
The Minister said: “Uniform is compulsory for those for whom we have prescribed it and to whom it has been distributed as well. Wherever the uniform is not distributed, we cannot expect the students to come wearing it. We have given oral instructions in this regard to the Deputy Directors of Public Instruction on this issue.”
Further, on the hijab issue, the Minister said among 84,000 Muslim students only 500 to 600 had been making it an issue. “A large section of students has been following the rule. Only a few are opposing. Let us see the positive side of the development,” he added.
Mr. Nagesh told a press conference in Bagalkot that repeaters and external students would be exempt from the uniform rule as they did not apply to them in the first place. But wearing hijab or saffron shawl would not be permitted, he noted.
To a query, the Minister said that any student who missed the examinations for any reason, would be allowed to appear for the supplementary examination.
As many as 8,73,846 students are taking the exam at 3,444 centres across the State. Among them, as many as 8,20,888 are fresh candidates, 46,200 private fresh candidates, 4,618 repeaters, 1,253 private repeaters, 809 repeaters, and 78 are private repeaters in the new scheme. The department is conducting the exam in 45,289 classrooms, which would be monitored by 3,444 chief superintendents and supporting staff members that include 49,817 room supervisors. CCTV cameras have been installed at all examination centres.
The department has issued standard operating procedures for the conduct of examination in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students have to undergo a health check-up. Thermal scanners would be used to check the temperature. Those with symptoms should be made to sit in separate rooms. Mask is a must for students.