The Supreme Court has overturned a decision by a lower court requiring schools to allow Muslim students to wear hijabs.
In their ruling, the judges said every school should have the right to determine its own rules.
A hijab is a scarf that some Muslim women wear, which covers their hair and neck, as per their religion.
On September 7, 2016, the Court of Appeal allowed Muslim students to wear hijabs as part of their school uniform.
The Appellate Judges at the time – Phillip Waki, Roselyne Nambuye and Patrick Kiage – directed that the Education CS ensure that rules on school uniform do not discriminate students based on their religion.
“The education CS should consider formulating and putting into place regulations, after due consultations, for the better protection of the fundamental right to freedom of religion and belief as well as equality and discrimination for all pupils and students in Kenya’s education system,” the judges ruled.
In May 2015, the High Court had issued a ruling terming wearing of hijabs in schools as discriminatory.
In his ruling, Justice Harun Makau said that the decision by Teachers Service Commission and the Isiolo County education office allowing female students of St Paul’s Kiwanjani Day Mixed Secondary School to wear hijabs in class was illegal and discriminatory.
He further ordered that the TSC, County Education director and the Sub County’s education officer not to effect the hijab rule.
It was after this that the Methodist Church, which sponsors the said school, moved to the Appellate Court saying that religion could not be used as a way of escaping from authority.
The dispute arose when the county’s education officer went against the court orders and announced a decision that allowed female students wear hijab and white trousers.
By Wangui Ngechu For Citizen Digital