Niqab banned from baccalaureate exams
Tunisian authorities have decided to ban female students from being veiled while sitting for an upcoming academic exam, reports Tunisia Live.
After lengthy debate, Tunisia’s
education ministry issued a decree banning students sitting for next week’s baccalaureate exam from covering their faces with the niqab – a veil worn by women that obscures all but the eyes. The Ministry’s release calls for students to “…be committed to uncovering their faces in the examination centers and classes during the entire exam period, thus ensuring the candidate’s identity and avoiding any misunderstanding which could lead to accusations of cheating and misbehaviour”. When asked to comment on the recent declaration, one baccalaureate exam supervisor at Nahj Russia High School who requested to remain anonymous stated, “As a supervisor, I will not accept any female student wearing the niqab to sit for the exam. I am not personally against it, but this is an official decision that must be respected – without exception – in order to avoid cheating and to ensure a favourable environment for baccalaureate students as well as for the supervisors to effectively accomplish their work.”
Moreover, the director of Nahj Russia High School emphasised that the decree would not affect many students, nor did it represent an explicit government statement. “[Nahj Russia High School] does not have any niqab-wearing female students as candidates for the baccalaureate this year. But as far as we are concerned, I think that this decision is only a matter of organisation and is not a governmental act against the niqab,” the director stated.
Although the number of niqab-wearing female students sitting for the baccalaureate exam in Tunisia remains minimal, the issue has aroused much controversy within the country. The fact that Tunisia’s education ministry has previously attempted to avoid any resolute statement on the issue makes the recent ban of the niqab during baccalaureate exams a particularly bold act.
At the same time, when Tunisia Live contacted various baccalaureate exam candidates and supervisors, few had even heard that the ban was passed, which raises the potential for a rude awakening next week when Tunisian students across the country pick up their pens to take the mandatory exam.