Conflicts are developing in Irish schools over the wearing of the hijab, or headscarf, by Muslim pupils, it was disclosed yesterday.
The issue is a major challenge in faith-based schools where the headscarf is definitely not part of the standard school uniform.
The president of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) Aine O'Neill said that in some Christian faith-based schools, perhaps as much as a third of the students were not of the majority faith.
She was aware of some of her colleagues who were experiencing conflicts over religion in Christian schools where non-Christian students were enrolled.
"Unfortunately bullying has become part of the issue in some schools. Those of us who work with children know that a child who is different in some way to the majority is a target for bullies," she told an NAPD symposium on diversity in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
Education sources said last night that her comments are the first public statement about conflicts over the hajib, the use of which has caused tensions in schools in the UK and France."
Ms O'Neill said the "new Irish" came from many and varied cultures. While language differences were obvious, less obvious were the multiple, diverse and contrasting social and religious customs the newcomers brought with them.
She noted that in Ireland there is no official policy on facilitating the integration of children from culturally diverse backgrounds. [Link]
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