By Mustapha Jallow
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), Mr. Louis Moses Mendy, on Wednesday, 24 November, told Foroyaa that though the use of Niqab in public schools has been discouraged but added that the dispatched memo does not include the University of The Gambia (UTG) and private Schools, because they are not in their purview.
Mr. Mendy made this statement after concerns were raised by UTG students over this new memo on Niqab.
For the information of the readers, Niqab is a veil that covers the face apart from the eyes and is worn by some Muslim women.
“We are just discouraging the wearing of the Niqab in public Schools for the purpose of enhancing quality teaching and learning in the country, rather than its hindrance,” PS Mendy explained during a telephone conversation with Foroyaa; adding that the memo comes in the wake of several complaints received from schools within the West Coast Region, and were brought to his attention by his Regional Directors.
“Students complained that when a teacher uses it (niqab) while teaching, they (students) will not hear properly or see the body language of their teacher,” he stated.
PS Mendy narrated that this was the reason why they are discouraging its use, which is limited only inside the classrooms but not outside the school or at home.
“It is just purely for the purpose of teaching and learning in class because of the complaints received, and we have also made some consultation with stakeholders regarding this matter,” he said; indicating that they want to sensitize them to ensure that students are assisted with quality learning.
According to Mr. Mendy, this is totally different from a ban, but rather a chance to better enhance teaching and learning that is free from hinderance.
The MoBSE PS urged citizens to support this development in order to be able to have better teaching and learning for students in schools; and that if students have difficulties in learning, their understanding of lessons will also be affected, and if understanding lessons is affected, it means everything else will be affected.
“It will not be helpful if we promote it or encourage it in Class,” he said; adding that there is no punishment attached to this memo, and nobody has been penalized for doing it so far.
“We are encouraging all our students to adhere to this for their own good. The UTG and private Schools are not in our purview, and if they are doing it, that is their own matter to take care of. We do not have authority over it because the are not under our jurisdiction,” PS Mendy said.
Meanwhile, he said the memo has been sent to Brikama Regional Directorate because that is where they received most of the complaints.