Court allows 120 pupils to wear headscarves in school

Nairobi, Kenya - The Court of Appeal has allowed 120 pupils in Mwingi District to wear headscarves in school.

Appellate judge, Justice Onyango Otieno said y the order should be followed until a case filed by the children who are members of the Kavonokya sect is heard and determined.

Issuing the interim orders, the judge also told the pupils to adhere to school regulations.

Justice Omollo, Samuel Bosire and Philip Waki are hearing the application.

The court adjourned the case to give 11 school head teachers and Mwingi County Council time to file their replying affidavits.

In the application, the pupils are challenging the High Court’s decision to dismiss a case in which they wanted the head teachers compelled to allow them to wear headscarves as prescribed by their religion.

Through their lawyer, Mr David Oriaro, the pupils claim the judge erred in dismissing their case last month.

In his judgment, Justice Joseph Nyamu said the pupils failed to demonstrate to the court that they were indeed expelled from school for failing to wear proper uniform.

The judge agreed with the lawyer representing the schools, Mr Christopher Nzili, that it had not been demonstrated how the headscarves constitute manifestation of the pupils’ faith.

Justice Nyamu said the requirement of the Education Act that pupils or students put on uniforms was made to instill discipline, order and equality in the learning institutions.

The petitioners are all schoolgirls from 11 schools in the district who claim to be members of a church known as "Arata A Roho Mutheru society" in Ukambani.

The sect is also known as Kavonokya.

The application was opposed by the schools on grounds that the sect was inconsistent with Government policies, rules and regulations and in particular, the Education Act that touched on discipline and school uniforms.