Expatica news

Schools win green light for headscarf ban

26 August 2005

BRUSSELS – Two schools in Wallonia have won permission to ban pupils from wearing headscarves from September.

The French Community education minister Marie Arena agreed on Thursday to allow Athénées royaux in Gilly and Vauban, near Charleroi, to outlaw pupils from wearing any ostentatious religious symbol.

The schools had requested a change to their rules to become effective from the start of the new school year.

A statement from Arena’s cabinet said: “The minister, having checked that these projects don’t breach the rights and liberties in our country, believes educational teams should be trusted. It’s them who, on a daily basis and on the ground, are best at acting on the interest of pupils and for the good organisation of schools.”

Arena believes the two schools have changed their rules after thoughtful consideration and proper consultation. The texts were approved by the schools’ councils which include parents, teachers and pupils.

However, Arena doesn’t intend to introduce a blanket headscarf ban in all francophone schools. The minister said there should be a mix of educational establishments to allow parents to choose.

Now more than 70 percent of schools in the French Community have already outlawed religious symbols.

Arena’s decision on the Gilly and Vauban schools comes the day after Charleroi’s interim tribunal dismissed the case of parents who want the ban overturned.

Jean-Paul Jacques, the lawyer representing the parents, complained that there had never been a process of dialogue between the schools and the parents and pupils concerned by the ban. He also said he had not been granted a meeting between his clients and Arena to discuss the matter.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news