– Says students not allowed to use veil during exams, tests
• MURIC kicks, calls for review of controversial clause
The Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB) says students can now use niqab (veil) on the institution’s premises amid stringent conditions which include that they must not use it during examinations and continuous assessments.
The Senate of the institution made this recommendation and more regarding the niqab at a special meeting held on Friday, September 29.
Muslim News reports that there have been back and forth engagements following the ban of niqab in the federal university, with Muslim students and groups raging against the decision.
Our medium had reported how the FUNAAB management listed niqab among banned and ‘indecent’ dresses in a billboard manned strategically on the school premises.
During the special meeting of the Senate, it was agreed that students using the niqab (veil) must register with the Student Affairs Division through a recognized religious body on Campus.
“He/she must identify him/herself facially and with his/her identity card to the security personnel at the gate of the University,” a memo written by the Registrar and Secretary to the Senate, Bola Adekola, read.
It added: “Any student using veil is free to use it while in open places or moving around the campus. He/she must identify him/herself facially and with his/her identity card at the entry point of public facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, lecture theatres, clinic, farms, etc;
“He/she must facially identify him/herself and with his/her identity card and must not use the veil during Continuous Assessment Test (CAT) and examinations and can sit in the front row of the class.
“Facial identification of veiled female students should be done by either female security personnel, female staff or any responsible female student.”
Muslim News learnt that the decisions were communicated to the chairman and members of senate for implementation.
Meanwhile, a Muslim rights group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has reacted to the decision of FUNAAB’s Senate, noting that the clause that prevents students from writing examinations and tests after a series of checks and identification is an avoidable duplication.
The group made this known in a press release issued by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, on Saturday, September 30, appealing to the Senate to review that controversial aspect of their decision.
“The Senate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) yesterday issued a circular in which it partially approved the use of niqab (veil) for female Muslim students of the institution who wish to use it.
“While we appreciate the university’s senate and management for making this compromise, we wish to place it on record and to request the university to take a second look at the conditionalities, particularly item No. 5 of FUNAAB circular Ref FUNAAB/REG/S&A/58/III dated yesterday, 29th September, 2023. The circular was signed by the University Registrar and Secretary to Senate, Bola Adekola,” MURIC’s statement said.
“We are deeply disturbed by one of the conditionalities contained in the circular which requires a veiled female Muslim student to remove the veil during examinations and tests after being checked before entering. This is an avoidable duplication.
“To be specific, item No. 5 of the circular reads, ‘He/she must facially identify him/herself and with his/her identity card and must not use the veil during Continuous Assessment Test (CAT) and Examinations and can sit in the front row of the class.’
“It is our humble opinion that the university has demonstrated lack of proper knowledge of the situation as regards the life of Muslims. Muslim males do not use veils. Therefore, the use of two pronouns ‘He/she’ and ‘his/her’ in item No. 5 is absolutely unnecessary.
“Secondly, it is not necessary to ask a veiled female candidate who has already been checked, identified and cleared at the entrance of the examination hall or classroom to expose herself throughout the examination or test. This has already defeated the purpose of checking her at the entrance. It amounts to duplication, waste of time and energy, stereotyping as well as subjecting Muslim candidates to intimidation and coercion.”
MURIC says it is hazardous, cumbersome and uncomfortable for Muslim female students who are used to covering up to be asked to expose themselves in the midst of male candidates and male invigilators.
“Or does FUNAAB have special examination halls for female candidates to be invigilated by women?” the group queried.
“Again, asking female Muslim candidates in niqab to sit in the front row will not help matters. Examination supervisors often come to the front of the hall or classroom. What do we expect the ladies in niqab to do if this happens? Should they drop their writing materials and cover their faces with their hands for as long as the invigilator chooses to remain in front of the classroom?
“An examination environment requires full concentration whereas unveiling and double checking will create unease, disquiet and distraction. It will definitely affect the candidates’ performance.”
MURIC says the decision accepting the niqab by FUNAAB’s Senate will remain a Greek gift if the clause on examinations and tests is not reviewed.
“The points raised above have proved the illogicality, unsuitability and unworkability of item No. 5. That clause has thrown a spanner in the works.
“MURIC has immense respect for the University Senate and the academia in general, therefore, while appreciating the FUNAAB management once again, we appeal to the Vice Chancellor and Senate of the university to review this particular item with a view to limiting the checking of candidates wearing niqab to once at the entrance of the examination hall or classroom. Such a review will change the status of the approval from a Greek gift.”
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