Karnataka’s Waqf Board has proposed establishing girls-only schools and colleges in 10 districts and has clarified that the proposal, which is yet to be approved by the state government, has nothing to do with the hijab controversy.
Maulana Shafi Saadi, chairman of the board, said on Wednesday that these institutions — to be set up in Mangalore, Udupi, Kodagu, Shivamogga, Chitradurga, Bagalkote, Vijayapura, Kalburgi, Chikkodi and Nippani — would allow girls to wear the hijab . admission would be open to students from all communities.
“The plan to set up institutions for girls has been running for eight months now. We follow the principle of Prime Minister Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. It’s not something that sprouted after the hijab squabble. I don’t know why certain people are linking this to the hijab issue. Girls of all religions are allowed to attend school in these new institutions,” Saadi told indianexpress.com, confirming that girls in these institutions are allowed to wear the hijab.
These schools and colleges, offering education from the LKG level to the professional level, would be built on waqf land at a cost of Rs 25 crore fully funded by the board.
The board plans to build these schools and colleges in the margins of its institutions such as Al Ameen College, Gousiya Engineering College and the Khaja Bandanawaz Institute of Medical Science.
“These institutions will be built on land already allocated to existing waqf governance institutions in various districts of the state. Although they will be different campuses, the new institutions will be managed by the respective waqf governing institutions. The waqf board will finance the construction of buildings, while it is up to the institutions to create a framework for the kind of education they intend to offer after government approval,” Saadi said.
However, the move has been criticized by right-wing outfits. Sanjay Badaskar, a member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said, “Are there not enough government and minority schools in the state? What is the need to establish more schools run by Muslims? This is nothing but another form of madrasa and a form of polarization. Allowing hijabs in such settings is to make their story stronger. While these institutions claim to admit girls of other faiths, Hindu girls and staff will eventually face discrimination. We will resist this tooth and nail.”
The proposal comes months after the hijab controversy erupted when Muslim girls wearing headscarves were banned from entering the classrooms of government pre-university colleges in Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts.
The state government has since allowed educational institutions to ban the hijab and other religious clothing in classrooms as part of enforcing uniforms and dress codes.