Egypt’s Minister of Education Moheb Al-Refaei has declared that children will not be allowed to wear the hijab (head-scarf) at school.
In statements given during an interview to the television show ‘Ten in the Evening’, hosted by Wael El-Ebrashy, the Minister of Education said that Islam does not call upon girls to wear the hijab until they reach puberty, reported Youm7.
However, the Minister did not clarify when this ban would take effect and whether it would apply to all year/grade levels in Egypt. Moreover, it was not clarified whether the ban would apply to private schools. Egypt’s new school year is set to commence in September.
The topic of dress codes at school arose after Egypt’s Ministry of Education referred a school headmaster to investigations over wearing the jalabiya (a traditional Egyptian garment often worn in rural areas).
During a surprise visit to a school in the Sharqiya governorate, Sharqia’s governor Reda Abdel Sallam referred the primary school’s headmaster and teachers to be investigated after they were found to be wearing the ‘improper outfits’.
On television, Minister Al-Refaei addressed this issue, stating that the Ministry did not mean to insult or embarrass the teachers but that there must be a certain level of professionalism at schools across Egypt. To ensure teachers are able to abide by proper dress-codes, the Minister proposed providing clothing to teachers at a subsidized price.
The Minister also promised to work to raise the salaries of teachers across Egypt.
Whether the Minister’s recent statements on live television will be welcomed remains to be seen. Controversy had recently erupted after multiple restaurants, clubs, beaches and pools were found to be banning women dressed in the hijab. In response to the outrage, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism had announced that any restaurants or tourism facilities found to be banning the veil would be shut down.