Indonesian student allegedly forced to wear hijab transfers to another high school

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

A grade 10 student at a public high school in Banguntapan, Yogyakarta has moved to another school after she claimed teachers forced her to wear a hijab.

Last week, the 16-year-old, who is a Muslim who chooses not to wear the hijab in her everyday life, said through an adult representative that three teachers called her out for not wearing the Islamic head covering during orientation. She told them that while her dad has bought her a hijab, she has decided not to don the veil yet, as is within her right.

The student was especially distressed when a school counselor put a hijab on her in front of other students. She then locked herself in the bathroom, where she reportedly cried for about an hour before she almost fainted. Her parents were then called to the school to pick her up.

The student became depressed and reclusive after the incident. The Yogyakarta Education and Sports Agency then offered her the chance to transfer to another public school, which she accepted.

“We are going to investigate this issue in more depth. But to give comfort to the student, we gave her the choice to continue going to the school or move to another school,” agency head Didik Wardaya told reporters yesterday.

No sanctions have been given to the school nor its teachers while official investigation into the case is ongoing.

The high school’s principal, who acknowledged that public schools are not allowed to impose dress codes on religious grounds, denied the student’s claim that a teacher forced the hijab on her. According to him, the school counselor merely conducted a tutorial on how to wear a hijab and the student gave consent to being her prop.

Last year, the Education Ministry issued a stern warning to public educators to abide by the ministry’s 2014 decree prohibiting religious accessories or apparel to become part of uniforms at public schools. The warning came after a non-Muslim student in Padang complained that she was made to wear the hijab.


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