‘Hijab is an issue of Identity’

Dr. Mrs. Ekaette Ettang is the National President of Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria, ACSN, the umbrella body for all Christian/Mission schools in Nigeria. She spoke to our man, Ralph Madugu, on what necessitated the formation of ACSN, the lingering controversy over use of hijab in mission schools in Kwara State and other sundry issues regarding education in Nigeria. Excerpts:

What were the factors that necessitated the formation of the Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria?

The Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria, ACSN, was formed as a result of the burden to bring back qualitative and quantitative education that will touch the heart (fear of God and Godly character), head (high academic capacity) and hands (functional and skill based) of our children. In other words, it was meant to promote holistic education for maximum impact. Above all, it was to disciple and teach our children their Christian heritage.

Recently, you called on Nigerians of goodwill to rise up and rescue faith-based schools. What prompted that clarion call?

You will recall that the Kwara State governor closed down some ten faith-based schools namely:  C & S College Sabo Oke, St. Anthony College, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, CAC Secondary School Asa Dam, St, Barnabas Secondary School Sabo, Oke, St. John School Maraba, St. Williams Secondary School Taiwo Isale and St. James Secondary School Maraba.

Dr. Mrs. Ekaette Etang- President of Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria (ACSN).

As the umbrella body for all Christian/mission schools, we were in a state of shock and thoroughly embarrassed by the thinking pattern and the resulting actions of the Kwara State government in forcefully closing down the Christian/mission schools merely on the issue of uniforms. Duly registered schools with their own unique Christian identity closed down for insisting on maintaining their Christian identity? To us, the issue of hijab is the issue of identity. Every faith-based school, whether Muslim or Christian, have their identity. The question we are asking is: “Has seeking to maintain their identity as faith based schools through their uniform suddenly become a crime in Nigeria or only in Kwara State? This we consider a very dangerous development and if not immediately checked and nipped in the bud…. It is time to let people know that these kinds of schools are not just private schools but faith-based schools and have their unique identity. The Christian/ mission schools deserve to be treated as such and with respect. It is time to accord recognition and respect to our peculiarities and uniqueness. It is also my plea to the minister of education to act as our father in the educational sector by educating the politicians on the uniqueness of each type of school to avoid one trying to dominate the other. This trend must stop.

Get a hard copy of the April edition of Today’s Challenge Magazine to read the complete interview.

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