PATTANI: The director of a local school that prohibited students from wearing Islamic headscarves has backed down from his ban after senior education authorities stepped in following complaints from parents.
Anuban Pattani School came under pressure from parents who threatened to protest against the ban by having their children wear Muslim clothes to school when it opens today. Education permanent secretary Karun Sakulpradit and Boonrak Yodpet, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, travelled to the southern province Sunday to attend a meeting to address the dispute.
Speaking after the meeting, school director Prachak Chusri said it was concluded that Muslim girls and boys can wear their religious clothes to school in line with the Education Ministry's regulations on uniforms.
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He said the school management would explain the decision to those involved, including the school board and the temple.
"It was agreed that Muslim girls can wear the headscarf and Muslim boys can wear long pants as allowed by the ministry's regulations. The school will inform the parents of the decision again as well as explain it to others involved," he said.
The ban on the headscarves was decided by the school board on the basis the school is located within a temple compound. The controversy erupted last week shortly after the new academic term started.
Three parents were informed of the ban and reportedly told administrators they would transfer their children to another school if they insisted on continuing with the headscarf ban.
Dalan Nung-alee, Pattani's education chief, said the dispute was handled on the basis of peaceful coexistence in a multi-cultural society. Moreover, the Education Ministry already had a policy on the issue. He said authorities were worried about the matter and did their best to resolve it.
The scrapping of the headscarf ban was welcomed by dozens of parents who gathered at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani campus, where a forum was held to address the dispute.
The participants erupted in cheers and applause as Mr Prachak's announcement was live streamed to the meeting.
They also thanked the school and education authorities for understanding. Following the dispute, Waedueramae Mamingji, chairman of Pattani provincial Islamic committee and a member of the school board, submitted his resignation from the school board.