Takwa Rejeb, a Muslim born in Spain to Moroccan parents and planning to study an FP (Formación Profesional, or the Spanish answer to the BTEC route) in tourism, was sent home from the Benlliure high school in Valencia based upon what SOS Racism called ‘a closed and overly-literal interpretation’ of the centre’s dress code, which bans balaclavas, woolly hats and baseball caps if they obscure the wearer’s face.
A hiyab just covers the hair and throat, and is very similar to the hair-covering scarves often worn by African, Afro-Caribbean or Afro-Latin women, and is a cultural as well as a religious symbol.
Regional education authorities, headed up by minister Vicent Marzà, has tackled the issue with the school in question and with others which have taken a similar attitude.
Marzà’s department says it plans to draft an urgent regional law on school dress code to prevent similar situations from recurring.
“Our ultimate aim is to guarantee the right to education for all pupils, and we need to draw on all tools necessary to encourage acceptance and tolerance of cultural diversity in Valencia region schools,” education autorities say.
The General Directorate of Education Policy is planning a day-long conference on ‘new challenges and social contexts’ to ‘deal with cultural diversity in the classroom’ and ‘ensure good inter-cultural practices’ in schools.
The student Takwa Rejeb (pictured) says she is ‘very satisfied’ by the positive solution to her problem and the speed with which authorities have acted.
“I’m delighted that it has not just ended up as yet another issue that ‘we’re working on changing’. This is the 21st century, and it’s a century of change,” she stresses.
“The most important issue is to guarantee everyone’s rights, and we all have the right to go to school.
“Also, my wearing a hiyab does not harm anyone.
“I hope my case serves as an example for other schools – bit by bit, we should all put our twopenn’orth in and eventually, positive change will happen.”