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NCEE: Remove dress restrictions, focus on education emergency

February 21, 2022

The National Coalition of Education Emergency (NCEE) has criticised educators, educational institutions and individuals for exclusion of Hijab wearing Muslim women students from education institutions. 

“We note, with deep concern and anguish, the active prevention of Muslim women from attending government schools and colleges, on the grounds that they wear the Hijab, a headscarf. This move violates not just the fundamental rights of these women, including those of freedom (Article 19, 25) and equality (Article 14), but also their right to education,” said NCEE in its statement. NCEE is a consortium of child right activists, educators and NGOs.
“This violation of the children’s Right to Education, distressing by itself, comes just after schools and colleges have re-opened, after nearly 2 years of closure due to the pandemic. The loss to students due to school closure is an Education Emergency, unprecedented in the history of independent India. Malnutrition, child labor, early marriages, and domestic violence have increased sharply. Most children have suffered learning and socio-emotional deprivation. When the educational status of students is already under severe harm, aggravating this, by raising issues that prevent their attending school/college, is simply unacceptable.” 
The NCEE statement is signed by 2,600 child rights activists and educators from 31 states and Union territories including Dr Padma Sarangapani, Dr Jean Dreze, Dr R Ramanujam, Dr Shantha Sinha, Dr Niranjanaradhya VP, Dr Jyotsna Jha, and Subir Shukla. 
“Education of girls and of minorities is an accepted national priority, as both have historically lagged behind in accessing education. Preventing girls of a minority community from attending college, doubly harms our nation,” adds the statement . 
NCEE has also made three recommendations for the state government to consider. It has asked that restriction of clothing be removed as it is a matter of a student’s personal choice, encourage students to attend schools and colleges to halt student dropout rates and third, focus energies on addressing the Education Emergency. 
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