The Kwara state government has direct the indefinite closure of the 10 grant-aided missionary schools over dispute around use of hijab.
Permanent secretary of the State’s Ministry of Education, Kemi Adeosun made this known in a statement on Monday in Ilorin, the state capital.
“The government therefore directs schoolchildren and teachers in the affected schools to remain at home until the contrary is announced.
“The government remains committed to fairness, pluralism, and respect for the law and rights of every citizen at all times,” the statement read.
The government in February shut down 10 schools – C&S College, ST. Anthony College, ECWA School, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, CAC Secondary School, St. Barnabas Secondary School, St. John School, St. Williams Secondary School and St. James Secondary School in Ilorin over the hijab dispute.
Muslim leaders had insisted that students should be allowed to use the head covering in accordance with the Nigerian constitution, while their Christian counterparts insisted that such negates the heritage of the missions, who built the schools.
However, after several peace meetings, the state government approved the use of hijab in all public schools in the state and ordered the reopening of the affected schools on March 8.
The state government said it had considered the submissions of all the major interest groups on the matter. However, the decision did not go down well with the Christian leaders who kicked against it openly, insisting that they will not allow such in their mission schools.
According to reports, the Christian leaders had urged Christians “to occupy the schools” when they reopen today in protest of the government’s resolution.
The military government, in the 1970s, took over these schools from the missionaries who founded them. These schools, now grant-aided, had their names changed afterwards but some, like those in Kwara, retained their names.
The Christian missions in Kwara State had twice challenged the government’s ownership of the schools in court but lost the suit at the high and appellate courts.
Undaunted, the missions comprising different Christian denominations, have appealled to the Supreme Court.