CAIRO - Missing six school days, two Muslim students were finally allowed to return to their Cape Town high school after education officials ordered the school to allow wearing of religious headgear as a right protected under the constitution.
"The issue came to a head last week when the school principal told the learners that they were not allowed to wear their Muslim headgear at school and sent them home," said Western Cape education department spokesman Paddy Attwell, Cape Times reported on Friday, January 25.
In their first day at Eben Donges High school, Sakeenah Dramat, 16, and her brother Bilaal, 13, were kicked out for refusing to remove a headscarf and a traditional Islamic hat.
South Africa's school dress code guidelines stipulate that pupils cannot be prohibited from wearing religious attire according to the country's constitution.
Missing several days of school, the two students were allowed to return to school after the Western Cape education department indicated in writing that the pupils should return to school and be able to wear their headgear.
A meeting was then held on Thursday morning with the school and the parents where the education department, a local imam and the South African Human Rights Commission were present.
A district official joined parents at the school for the discussion and to facilitate the learners' return to class, Attwell said.
An imam from the family's mosque in Kraaifontein provided valuable advice on requirements for Muslim attire and how they can be accommodated in school dress codes.
The students' mother, Nabila Dramat, said the meeting at the school had gone very well, with the issue being rectified.
Dramat, who had asked the SA Human Rights Commission to investigate the incident, said she was grateful for the miracle which had allowed her children to return to school.
Muslims make up some 1.5 percent of South Africa's 49 million-strong population, according to the CIA fact book.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.