Freedom of Religious Expression in Schools

Freedom of Religious Expression in   Schools
The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa   has been informed of numerous instances wherein learners have faced   difficulties in terms of religious expression in schools. Parents are hereby   advised that:

South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (National   Guidelines on School Uniforms) states:

29. The following information is provided to assist in   determining a school uniform policy or dress code and in the management of   school uniforms.

Religious and Cultural Diversity
(1) A school uniform policy or dress code should take   into account religious and cultural diversity within the community served by   the school. Measures should be included to accommodate learners those   religious beliefs are compromised by a uniform requirement.

(2) If wearing a particular attire, such as yarmulkes   and headscarves, is part of the religious practice of learners or an   obligation, schools should not, in terms of the Constitution, prohibit the   wearing of such items. Male learners requesting to keep a beard as part of a   religious practice may be required by the school to produce a letter from   their religious teacher or organisation substantiating the validity of the   request. The same substantiation is applicable to those who wish to wear a   particular attire.

[Government Gazette – 23 February 2006]

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act   No. 108 of 1996 Section 31) also guarantees the right to freedom of   conscience and religion.

School policy therefore has to be consistent with these principles. However,   it is vital for parents to maintain good manners and adopt the correct   procedure when seeking exemption from any school policy that infringes our   religious beliefs.

Parents should address their grievances via the following structures and in   the following order of priority:

School   Principal; School Governing Body; District Manager of your circuit; Regional   Director of Education; MEC for Education and Minister of Education.

For further information you may contact your nearest Jamiatul Ulama South   Africa Branch.

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