UK school wants government to ban hijab, fasting for children

St Stephen's is run by Indian-origin principal Neena Lall. (Image source: st-stephens-primary.org.uk) Photograph:( Others )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 14, 2018, 10.29 AM (IST)

A leading UK government school wants the government to take a firm stand on children wearing the hijab and fasting during Ramzan. 

PTI reported that St Stephen's school in Newham, east London, was one of the first in the country to ban the hijab for girls under 8 in 2016, and plans to do the same for girls under 11 starting September 2018. 

The school also imposed strict rules on fasting on campus during Ramzan. 

PTI reported that a majority of students at St Stephen's are from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and that the school is run by Indian-origin principal Neena Lall. 

Also read: Muslim girl wearing hijab stopped from ordering at London McDonald's

"The (education) department should step up and take it out of our hands and tell every school this is how it (fasting) should be. The same for the hijab, it should not be our decision. It is unfair to teachers and very unfair to governors. We are unpaid. Why should we get the backlash," PTI reported Arif Qawi, chairman of governors at St Stephen's School, as telling The Sunday Times'.

"We did not ban fasting altogether but we encouraged them (children) to fast on holidays, at weekends and not on the school campus," Qawi added. 

Qawi's point was that on campus, it is the teachers who are responsible for children's health and safety. 

UK's education department however seems to have lobbed the ball in the school's court. 

"It is a matter for individual schools to decide how to accommodate children observing Ramadan, and to set uniform policies. We issue clear guidance on uniform and to help schools understand their legal duties under the Equality Act," a Department for Education statement said. 

PTI added that St Stephen's had in November 2017 topped a prestigious primary schools' league table published annually by The Sunday Times.

It was listed as the best school in England in the "Schools Guide 2018" for a strong teaching record.