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UK school wants govt to ban hijab, fasting for children

Press Trust of India  |  London 

One of the UK's leading state-funded schools has called on the to take a firm stand on children wearing and during

St in Newham, east London, became one of the first schools in the country to ban the for girls under eight in 2016 and intends to ban it for girls under 11 from September 2018.

It also imposed strict rules on fasting, a ritual that lasts around 18 hours a day in the summer, on school premises.

The school, with a majority of pupils from Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds and headed by Indian- origin principal wants the to issue clear guidelines on the issue to prevent a backlash from parents.

"The 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, Arif Qawi, of governors at St Stephen's School, told The Sunday Times'.

He said that despite criticism from a few families, some parents were happy with the school's stance on

"We did not ban altogether but we encouraged them (children) to fast on holidays, at weekends and not on the school campus. Here we are responsible for their health and safety if they pass out on campus. It is not fair to us," said Qawi, who consulted with Muslim clerics to confirm that fasting should begin from the age of puberty.

Under the for guidelines, uniform policy is a matter for individual head-teachers and their governing bodies.

"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 statement said.

In November 2017, St had topped a prestigious primary schools league table published by The annually.

Itwas listed as the best school in England in the 'Schools Guide 2018' for a strong teaching record.

"Everything we do here comes from our vision that every St Stephens child blossoms into a confident, respectful, modern British citizen prepared to be an aspirational contributor in the global community," Lall had said at the time.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 15:00 IST