Recent media reports identified the German International School who did not permit a child to wear a headscarf. This is an issue that is brewing at some schools and has been coming on for decades.
What is required in such situations is wisdom. At Tamboerskloof Primary where I am the chairman of the governing body, the principal, a white woman requested that we introduce an official headscarf that complimented the school uniform. I was surprised and excited all at once. As the Chairman and a Muslim, I did not request or champion the headscarf issue at all. It was a decision by the female teaching staff that preferred uniformity instead of an array of brightly coloured and crazy designs.
Similarly, a year ago, the staff requested permission from the governing body and the affected parents to develop separate grade 6 and 7 classes for girls and boys. Since girls and boys experience drastic biological changes at this phase of development, the teaching staff believed that separate classes would be in the academic interest of learners overall. Maturing girls now discuss female related issues in class that cause most fathers to run for the hills.
This quality of deep reflection and forward thinking by the staff and their commitment on many levels makes Tamboerskloof Primary an academic and a multiculturalism success story in South Africa.
Another good example of multiculturalism at work is the South African College High School (SACS) where they have a Friday prayer (Jumat) for Muslim students. At SACS youths are shaped into thinkers and leaders and for that to flourish they learn to comprehend the varied world around them.
I suggest principals and governing bodies that experience cultural adversity talk to school staff where multiculturalism flourishes. It is better than being humiliated on the front page of the newspaper.
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress