HRCSL roots for teachers’ right to wear abaya | Daily News


HRCSL roots for teachers’ right to wear abaya

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) in a statement said national schools are bound by the Constitution and cannot violate the absolute right to religious freedom by asking teachers to refrain from wearing the abaya in schools.

In March 2018, four assistant teachers of Sri Shanmuga Hindu Ladies College, Trincomalee, lodged a complaint with the HRCSL that the Principal and the School Board of Management prohibited them from wearing the abaya at school.

The school justified the prohibition on the basis that historically the school, which was founded by a Hindu, has followed Hindu traditions, and wearing the abaya was not in line with the customs of the school, the HRCSL satatement said.

The HRCSL finds that the denial of the right of the complainants to wear their traditional dress and the arbitrary nature of the transfers to other schools were done on the basis the religion of the complainants.

“Hence, the rights to which the complainants are entitled as per Article 12(1) and 12(2) of the Constitution have been violated. The Commission further states that although the manifestation of religion, under Article 14(1)(e) can be restricted in order to recognise and respect the rights and freedoms of others, ensuring another person’s religious freedom does not require barring the wearing of the abaya at school.”

The Commission reiterated the need for respect for diversity and pluralism in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country such as Sri Lanka, and calls upon the Education Ministry and the Zonal Education Director to conduct awareness raising programmes on diversity and pluralism for school principals, teachers, students and parents.

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