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Maharashtra board says only women staff should check identity of burkha-clad SSC/HSC students

Notification to school follows complaints that some students were made to remove head scarves last year

mumbai Updated: Feb 07, 2018 09:33 IST
Shreya Bhandary
Shreya Bhandary
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,SSC exam,HSC exam
The state board said it cannot ask students to go against their religious beliefs. (Representational photo/HT)

After complaints from students last year about being forced to remove their burkha to show their faces during exams, the state board has said only female teachers or constables will be allowed to do so.

A notification by the Maharashta State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) says any student wearing a burkha should be allowed to take the exam and in case of any suspicion, only then should a female staff member be allowed to check the identity of the student against her hall ticket during the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) or Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams.

“State board has never had a rule which does not allow students to wear burkha during exams. We cannot ask them to go against their religious beliefs so we have reminded schools to ensure that only female staff should be allowed to check students in such cases,” said Krishnarao Patil, secretary, MSBSHSE.

Patil added that this notice has been sent as a reminder to all schools, especially after receiving more complaints from female students last year during board exams. “We have received various complaints from across Maharashtra so we have sent this notice again to schools that will be acting as exam centres for the upcoming exams,” he added.

In the past two years, several cases had emerged where schools had asked students take to remove their head scarf before entering the exam hall. This, despite clear instructions from the state board that students wearing burkha should be allowed to take exams in their choice of attire. Some students from Nashik division had also written to the state board, seeking help in this matter. “Schools have also been informed to not check all students in burkha, without any suspicion. We need to make sure we are not scaring students just before their exams, especially since they will already be stressed about their board exam,” added Patil.

Most schools in Mumbai said they have already been following this rule, and agreed that forcing students to remove their head scarves for exams was unfair to them. “The Mumbai division of the state board was the first to introduce this rule couple of years ago, however, there still have been complaints from students. Schools need to understand that scaring students before such an important exam only adds to their anxiety,” said Uday Nare, a teacher at Hansraj Morarji School, Andheri (West).

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 09:33 IST